Trial starts for San Jose teacher accused of vile molestation of grade-school girls

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San Jose, Calif. elementary school teacher Craig Chandler is on trial right now for allegedly blindfolding second- and third-grade girls and coercing them to perform oral sex on him during recess.

The trial opened Monday, reports the San Jose Mercury News. If convicted of the five child molestation accounts against him, Chandler faces up to 75 years in the state pen.

The details of the prosecution’s case are nauseating. Prosecutor Alison Filo charged that Chandler, 36, led the young girls one by one into Room 18 at O.B. Whaley Elementary School. They were blindfolded, the prosecutor said. Something was placed in their mouths. Then, Chandler allegedly told them to do things such as, “Move your tongue around.”

Filo introduced into evidence two adult chairs where some of the girls were allegedly told to sit. She said the chairs contained traces of semen in various locations. She said the semen belonged to Chandler.

There was also a videotape of one of the allegedly victimized girls. She claimed that she peeked out of her blindfold at one point and saw “hair and skin” as well as something in the general shape of a phallus, according to the Mercury News.

Chandler’s defense attorney, Brian Madden, argued his client’s case vigorously. He explained that Chandler did once have a sexual encounter in Room 18, but that was with an adult woman.

“It’s certainly not something he’s proud of,” Madden noted.

Chandler is married to another elementary schoolteacher.

“Craig Chandler has no sexual interest in children,” Madden said. “It’s inconceivable that children would allow him to do what they said he did without evoking some physical or emotional reaction.”

Madden said the blindfolds had an innocent explanation as well: Chandler wanted to show the girls what it was like to live life like someone such as Helen Keller.

Madden also indicated that he will use what’s known as the “McMartin defense,” so named for the 1983 McMartin daycare sexual abuse case—the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. In that six-year Southern California criminal trial, defense attorneys successfully showed that investigators convinced preschool kids they were molested using suggestive questions.

Chandler had previously been disciplined for using the “Helen Keller lesson.” A student complained of a possible incident of molestation, reports KTVU. Lyn Vijayendran, then the principal, told Chandler to drop the lesson but never reported anything to police, which she was required to do under California law.

A previous Mercury News story contains several tremendously disturbing details about the first student’s complaint.

“The girl told the principal that Chandler blindfolded her in a room with no one else there, made her lie down on the classroom floor, told her to open her legs, touched her feet with something that felt like a tongue, inserted something gooey in her mouth and then wiggled her head around until she tasted a salty liquid.”

Vijayendran has since been convicted of failing to report Chandler’s prior possible sexual abuse to police. She received two years of probation and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

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