$15 Million Settlement Reached in Evergreen School District Molestation Case
SAN JOSE – A $15 million settlement was reached Monday, June 15, 2015, between a South Bay school district and the families of four girls abused by their teacher, Craig Chandler, who was found guilty of molesting five students in 2012. Chandler, 36, was a second grade teacher at Whaley Elementary School in San Jose in the Evergreen School District. Chandler is currently serving a 75-year prison sentence for his actions which included keeping 7- and 8-year-old students in his classroom during recess, locking the classroom door, and putting blindfolds on them while pretending to play a feel-and-touch game while inserting his penis in their mouths. During the criminal trial, the victims testified in court about feeling something inserted into their mouths, and semen was found on chairs in the teacher’s classroom.
The principal of the elementary school, Lyn Vijayendran, was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor after a jury found she ignored vivid and graphic reports from an 8-year-old girl and allowed Chandler to continue teaching until his arrest on January 10, 2012. Evidence was presented at Vijayendran’s trial that the district had not trained Vijayendran or the human resources director she consulted how to carry out their legal obligation to report suspected abuse or neglect. In the trial against the principal, Vijayendran’s notes were the strongest evidence. The victim told the principal that Chandler had blindfolded her in the classroom while no one else was there, and made her lie down and open her legs, and inserted something gooey in her mouth then wiggled her head around until she tasted a salty liquid. Chandler told Vijenandran that he had called the girl into the classroom to prepare a lesson that he had taught for years.
Chandler worked at O.B. Whaley Elementary school for nine years prior to his 2012 arrest. In August 2013, a Santa Clara County jury reached guilty verdicts on five counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. All five of the girls testified on the stand for the prosecution during trial, as did eight boys who were in Chandler’s class. Only girls were asked to play the game during recess and none of the eight former male students who testified during the criminal trial said they had been asked to put anything in their mouths.
Steve Estey of Estey Bomberger represented one of the victims in the Evergreen School District trial. Estey has represented numerous victims of institutional sexual abuse including school districts and foster agencies. In 2012, Estey represented a victim of Martin Stobbe, a teacher at Queen Anne Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The jury in that case awarded $23 million to the victim following a 15-day trial. In 2010, Estey argued a molestation-related case in San Jose, California that resulted in the largest verdict in California history for a single person sex abuse case. On August 10, 2010, a jury awarded $30 million to the victim following a two and a half week trial. The case was published amongst the Top 100 Largest Verdicts in 2010.
Valerie Ashton, 760-405-7005