After deliberating for two days, a jury on Monday found a Lyn Vijayendran, a former California principal, guilty of failing to report suspected sexual abuse of a child by a teacher.
A judge then sentenced the former principal of O.B. Whaley Elementary School to two years of probation, $602 in fines and 100 hours of community service, the San Jose Mercury news reports.
"I agree with the jury's verdict," Santa Clara County Judge Deborah Ryan told a tearful Vijayendran. "You did what you thought was right, but I don't think it was objectively reasonable at the time.
"I know it will have far-reaching consequences for your career. I do think you made a very bad judgment that day," the judge said.
According to California state law, teachers and others who come into contact with children to report suspected child abuse. Vijayendran was reassigned to the district office as a coordinator of teacher support programs.
The Associated Press reports that after Vijayendran's sentencing, Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Alison Filo said the former principal simply did not meet her obligation as an educator and said as much during the weeklong trial.
"We hope that mandatory reporters in our community understand their basic obligation to contact law enforcement every time they so much as suspect that a child has been harmed," Filo said.
"In the words of (Vijayendran), 'I would have been crazy not to realize that this child was describing a sex act.' Getting talked out of that reasonable suspicion by her own inadequate investigation just isn't a defense."
According to AP, Vijayendran testified that teacher Craig Chandler appeared forthright when he told her an incident during which he allegedly blindfolded a second-grade girl and put something in her mouth was part of a lesson plan about Helen Keller.
In addition, Vijayendran's handwritten and typed notes, obtained by AP, say the second-grader told the principal that Chandler made her lie down on the classroom floor, touched her feet with something that felt like a tongue and put something in the 8-year-old's mouth that tasted like a salty liquid while she was blindfolded and alone with him in a classroom.
Chandler was subsequently arrested in January and ultimately charged with committing lewd and lascivious acts on five children. Tests by the Santa Clara County crime lab found his semen on a classroom chair, according to the San Jose Mercury.
The 35-year-old teacher, in jail pending his trial, faces a maximum sentence of 75 years to life if he is convicted.
The most recent failure of a former principal to report suspected sexual abuse of a child by a teacher is the second time in two decades that Santa Clara prosecutors had handled such a case.
The first case of this kind came in 1999 when the head of Hillbrook School in Los Gatos failed to report a bruise on the face of a student. A judge ultimately dismissed the case.