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Bay Area teacher's child molestation trial begins

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POSTED July 16, 2013 9:21 p.m.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Defense attorneys for a San Jose elementary school teacher charged with molesting children said the teacher had blindfolded the students to teach them compassion for blind people such as Helen Keller and did not force the children to perform oral sex, a newspaper reported.

As the trial began Monday, defense attorney Brian Madden told jurors that teacher Craig Chandler's exercise was a "completely valid" lesson plan, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Madden said Chandler's semen which investigators found on chairs in his classroom was the result of a consensual sexual relationship between the teacher and a woman, not of molesting children.

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

Madden also said parents and police convinced the O.B. Whaley Elementary School students into thinking they had been molested.

Prosecutor Alison Filo said Chandler brought second and third grade girls into a classroom and had something inserted into their mouths.

"Instead of being a classroom where children could grow and develop, this became a classroom of nightmares," Filo said. "Craig Chandler became the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing."

Filo showed jurors pictures of chairs where investigators discovered Chandler's semen.

The school's principal was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected sexual abuse of a child by Chandler in November.

Chandler, 36, faces 75 years to life in prison if convicted of five counts of child molestation with an enhancement for multiple victims. The trial was scheduled to resume Tuesday.

 

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