http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2006/08/11/school-district-sued-for-giordano-abuse


Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 11, 2006

School district sued for Giordano abuse

Victim claims officials failed to investigate tip

by Alexandria Rocha

A former student has filed a lawsuit against the Palo Alto school district accusing officials of failing to adequately investigate a tip that she was sexually abused by a teacher in the early 1990s.

The civil suit, which was filed in the San Mateo County Superior Court July 27, is the latest component in the Bill Giordano case.

Giordano, a longtime teacher and girls' volleyball coach at Palo Alto's Jordan Middle School, pleaded no contest in June to 10 counts of child molestation after admitting to a two-and-a-half year relationship with a student between 1991 and 1994.

Giordano was arrested at his Menlo Park home nearly one year ago. He will appear next in court Aug. 22 when a sentencing is expected.

The lawsuit filed in late July seeks unspecified financial damages from the school district and Giordano. As of Thursday, the school district and Giordano have not yet been served with the lawsuit.

John Cline, one of the victim's attorneys, would not say when the district and Giordano will be served.

Top district officials did acknowledge a "claim for damages" that was filed this month with the district on the same issue.

But, Associate Superintendent Jerry Matranga said Wednesday: "We have no indication of anything that has been filed with a court."

Most of the documents from the lawsuit are sealed.

According to parts of the suit, the victim -- who is now 28 -- "has sustained and will continue to sustain psychological and emotional damages," as well as "pain, humiliation and suffering" as a result of the incidents.

The victim's "consent to this battery was induced by fraud, misrepresentation, coercion, duress" and "by the use of alcohol and drugs," according to the suit. Giordano, also according to the suit, "acted with intent, malice, oppression and fraud."

The victim's name is being withheld by the Weekly.

Giordano, who began teaching at Jordan in 1991, admitted he had sex with the student between 1991 and 1994 -- starting when she was 14 years old. Giordano was the girl's volleyball coach and hired her to baby-sit his son at his Menlo Park home, according to reports.

The suit alleges that district officials "knew or should have known" about the sexual abuse because Giordano had allegedly been "engaged in prior acts of sexual abuse" with another student at Jordan.

There were originally two other victims accusing Giordano of sexual abuse involved in the case, but one decided she didn't want to be involved and charges that stemmed from the third relationship were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired, according to prosecutors.

The suit also says that between 1991 and 1994, "the abuse was so open and pervasive that a substantial amount of the student body knew" and "some fellow teachers at Jordan."

During the police investigation of Giordano, a student who attended Jordan in the 1991-'92 school year told police that "...everyone in the school knew" that Giordano "was having a sexual relationship" with the victim, according to the suit.

In the second semester of that same school year, the suit stated that the victim was assigned as Giordano's teacher's aide. During that time, Giordano "would openly leave campus" with her "during school hours and drive to his home in Menlo Park where the sexual abuse took place," according to the suit, which adds: "These incidents were observed by other administrators, faculty, staff and students of Jordan."

Around March of that semester, the suit says the principal of Jordan received an anonymous tip about the sexual relationship. The principal interviewed Giordano and "after a period of time," talked to the victim, which gave Giordano time to "exert his control over her and encourage her to deny the existence of the sexual abuse," according to the suit.

The suit alleges that district officials "failed to conduct any further investigation, failed to notify the police" and the victim's parents.

According to the district's human resources office, Joy Addison and Bob Alvarez were Jordan's co-principals at the time of the relationship.

"A teacher took advantage of (the victim). It was right under the noses of the school district. Evidence shows that they knew or should of known," Cline said.

Giordano has been free on more than $1 million bail since Sept. 2005.

Staff Writer Alexandria Rocha can be e-mailed at arocha@paweekly.com.

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