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Bay Area teacher convicted of molesting 5 students

  • This January 2012 file photo provided by the San Jose Police Department shows former O.B.Whaley Elementary second-grade teacher Craig Richard Chandler. (AP Photo/San Jose Police via San Jose Mercury News, File)

SAN JOSE — A former San Jose school teacher was convicted Thursday of blindfolding five second-grade girls and making them perform oral sex on him.

A Santa Clara County Superior Court jury found Craig Chandler, 36, guilty of five counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor coupled with multiple-victims enhancements, making him eligible for 75 years to life in prison.

"The facts of this case are unimaginable. The tragedy that was inflicted by Mr. Chandler is unspeakable," prosecutor Alison Filo told reporters after the verdict.

Chandler taught at O.B. Whaley Elementary School. The prosecution alleged that between August and October 2012, Chandler kept the 7- and 8-year-old students in his classroom during recess and put blindfolds on them while pretending to play a feel-and-touch game. The girls testified in court about feeling something inserted into their mouths.

Investigators also found traces of semen on two student chairs in Chandler's class and it tested positive for his DNA, Filo said.

Defense attorney Brian Madden told jurors the semen was the result of a consensual relationship between Chandler and a woman. He also said Chandler had blindfolded the students to teach them compassion for blind people, and argued that parents and police convinced the students into thinking they had been molested.

Chandler is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

In a separate case, the school's principal was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected sexual abuse of a child by Chandler.

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