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by John, Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2006
Unfortunately we only think of him as a creep because he has been found out. He was a nice guy til then. My daughter never had him as a pe teacher, got Mr.Colombo instead, and would have much preferred Mr. G. I spoke to him at back to school night once as he was leading the session and even I was taken in by his pleasant manner. This is the big problem, we never know who the bad guys are, its impossible to tell.
This is the problem: we rarely think of the people who will abuse our children as the people who most often do. Those people are not strangers in trenchcoats, hanging out in dark shadows or in the bushes.
They are typically someone in a position of trust in the lives of our children. They aren't strangers at all.
I find it difficult to understand, though, how this could have happened for so long to at least two different girls and no one have suspected something was afoul. Adults in these girls lives were asleep at the wheel, plain-and-simple. It's just too difficult to believe that this guy was doing this to these girls and NO adult suspected something was wrong.
How many of us have shown this to our 8,9, 10, 11 year old girls? I'm reading this, sitting across from my 6th grade daughter as she writes out our christmas cards, and I realize, I have been 'shielding' her from this utterly ugly episode which is probably the worst thing I could do...
How many of our girls don't know its OK for them to come to their Mom or Dad if something scary or fishy is going on?
Will talk to her now.
i know who this victim is, but i am surprised that the press didn't release her name since she is no longer a minor...
Sadly, I have been following this story (only recently as I work here in PA but, live elsewhere now). Since I have no children, I don't really follow school stories much and for some reason, I'd just never heard anyone mention Giordano's arrest/story. However, I grew up and went to school and worked here in the MV/PA area so, I do have some interest in local happenings.
I only came upon this story about Giordano a few months ago (remarkably) when I picked up the local paper and recognized Giordano's picture in the paper staring back at me. I worked what feels like a lifetime ago (as a teenager) at a local racquetball club where Giordano was a member. He would have been about 35 at the time. I distinctly recall him being a relentless flirt and as one of the other posters here said, "I was taken in by his pleasant manner." He seemed like a total flirt and also seemed like a normal man, to me, as a young girl.
I started my previous paragraph with the word "sadly" as this whole thing is quite sad and disgusting. The other posters write, "I find it difficult to understand....It's just too difficult to believe that this guy was doing this to these girls and NO adult suspected something was wrong." AND "How many of our girls don't know it's OK for them to come to their Mom or Dad if something scary or fishy is going on?"
I, unfortunately, was sexually molested as a young girl (from 4th grade through 6th grade) by my step-father. So, my interest in following this story is two part (1) because as a teenager, I knew Giordano through my job and was curious how much time he'd get and (2) because I know exactly the horrors his victim(s) went through because of my own personal experience.
You mothers and fathers out there who want to believe that this sort of thing could never happen to your child or God forbid in Palo Alto.....who write how you just can't understand and don't your kids know they can come to you..... Please stop and think about it! These guys didn't just fall off the turnip truck. They don't often look like some letch hanging out on the street corner. They are usually working men who are quite intelligent and adept at brainwashing young girls into believing that (a) it is THEIR fault and that the whole world (including Mom and Dad) will BLAME THEM for what happened, (b) worse yet, they will never be believed and (c) if they tell, something horrible will happen to them (my dear step-father loved to tell me over and over that he would kill me if I ever uttered a word). Needless to say, I never uttered a word until he was long out of the picture and I was in my early 30's because he put the fear of God in me (i.e., way too late for anybody to protect me from him). Young girls usually don't tell out a number of fears.
Guys like Giordano and my step-father set up their environment in such a way that they end up ALONE with their victims so that others don't see the obvious signs. They are cunning and manipulative.
I wondered as a young girl, "How could nobody know? Doesn't anybody SEE?" I wished someone would just ask me but, nobody did because he was too good at threatening me and made sure others were never around to see. I have 2 sisters who suspected my step-father and even they didn't know what to do or say (and I didn't ask for help because I figured everybody would blame me).
Talk to your kids (especially young girls) and ask questions. Parents see what they choose to see, in my opinion. Do a yearly grilling of your kids (in a good/nice way) but, don't just assume that if the kid doesn't say something then something isn't going on. It is far more common than we'd like to believe.
Thank you, Anonymous, for your wise words. As parents, we need to hear experiences like yours as a reminder to let our children know we are always there to listen and will protect them. I'm so sorry you had to experience such a trauma.
Thank you, Gunn High School Parent, for taking the time to read my story and your kind words. I wondered if people would still be reading this blog/link after so many days had passed (and figured some might never read what I wrote).
I have never written about this before (anywhere) -- maybe because it is anonymous, it is easier? My husband encourages me to write a book about my story. Maybe now, I will find my voice.
You're welcome, Anonymous. I encourage you to write. There's so much shame and secrecy around these events, and the more open we are, the easier it will be to prevent them from happening to other children.
My daughter had Bill Giordano as a PE teacher 7 years ago, and tells me that many of the girls thought he was creepy. They called him "the perv." Even young girls are aware of the subtle differences between an innocent pat on the back or hug and something more sexual; between a friendly look and a lecherous stare.
The key is to teach young girls (and boys, too!) to express their discomfort before the situation gets out of hand, and for the school district to take it seriously and address the problem way before the person in question engages in sexual intercourse with a student. It's shameful that at least a couple of staff members seem to have known what was happening, and did nothing.
My heart goes out to the victims, and I want to thank them for coming forward to prevent this person from further abusing our middle school age girls.
What happened to those young girls is awful and Giordano is a very sick man who took advantage of his role working with kids, just a very sick, demented man.
On the other hand I have known Pete Colombo for years and it was UNFAIR AND CLASSLESS of the first post to even mention his name in the same sentence as a pediphile like Giordano. Yes, Pete can be very rough around the edges at times while teaching and coaching but his heart is always in the right place and he certainly is not a child molester and is the first to admit when he is in the wrong.
POSTED BY FORMER JORDAN DAD
Please excuse my post if anyone thought I was casting any kind of doubt against Pete Colombo. The reason I mentioned him was to show that my daughter and I both were taken in by the "nice" Mr. G. to the extent that this was the preferable choice by reputation alone. In the end, she did enjoy Pete's classes and even went on the Boston/New York trip he helped to chaperone and particularly enjoyed getting to know him better. His reputation as a teacher and coach were a little daunting to my p e challenged daughter but we never had any doubts about his character.
The point of my post was to say just how we were all taken in by Mr. G and how hard it is to find out who these creeps are. If they all wore a big C for Creep on their shirts it would be easy, but in this real world we have to judge by other methods and these other methods are so difficult because the creeps are so good at appearing normal.
I checked with my son (who attended Jordan awhile back and had Mr. G as a teacher) when the story broke of Mr. G.'s arrest, and my son said he had a good impression of Mr. G. I had a little contact with Mr. G. and I vaguely recall it was courteous, I had a good impression. Therefore, I was surprised the allegations "turned out to be true." This has been an educational experience.
An aspect I find extra-disturbing is the earlier investigations (haven't read all the details yet). At a minimum, if concerns are raised about appropriate behavior of a teacher, I would think school officials should keep an eye out.
Thanks, Anonymous, for sharing your story - it has been instructive, thanks for the insights you offer us parents.
To simply call Bill a total creep is naive and simplistic. And to say that other adults must have seen, must have been aware, is also misguided. I was a colleague of Bill's for quite a few years, and I can tell you that his community of teaching colleagues was as shocked and disbelieving as anyone when the news first broke.
We who thought we were his friends were dismayed, angry, stunned, and more-- I was not the only one who was sure it could not be true-- until the whole story began to emerge and became undeniable. Then, it was like experiencing a death in the family-- someone likened it to when a suicide occurs, and you're left feeling grief, and anger, and betrayal, and even guilt for not having seen the warning signs.
I say this to try to give you some idea of how much Bill was liked and admired, and what a great guy he was-- he was a good friend to many. Yes his crime was despicable, and that's the awful part. He kept his secret life so secret, and was totally "normal" to those of us who knew him. I never saw any hint of his deviance, never heard students call him "perv", never saw anything but loyalty and devotion to a trusted coach and teacher.
Unfortunately, this is too often true in cases of sexual abuse-- Anonymous was right about the need to educate our children in a way that empowers them to resist and report, not make them fearful... Because the adults among us who have this terrible flaw may be good friends, trusted family, or respected colleagues, and not show this flaw even to those closest to them...
Teachers, remember Hamlet's words: "O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!. . .That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain; At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark." --and in Palo Alto it seems. A molester is not a "great teacher," no matter how pleasant he seems.
Hey Anon, thanks for the great quote from Hamlet-- but it's not only for teachers to know-- but for everyone. Education isn't the only arena where abuse happens, unfortunately.
And I totally agree that "A molester is not a 'great teacher'"-- it's just that he certainly looked and acted like one, for many years. That's part of what makes it so terrible...
Anonymous, you're right. The "smiling villain" can be found in all arenas unfortunately. Education is where I least expect to find one. I addressed the quotation to teachers only because I know that Giordano's colleagues and friends are the ones who are having to deal most directly with the shock of discovering his secret life.
I don't really believe Mr. G. is the person that the newspapers have written about. It is hard to believe that he did all those inappropriate activities with the young girls, although, he has confessed to two incidents. I'm sorry this happened because I know he wasn't always that way and was a very wonderful man when he was younger. He was an inspiration to me and an encourager to study and learn and help with students.
I decided to post my comment to this dialogue since it seems to be the most recent one taking place about the recent announcement of B. Giordano's sentence. My mom encouraged me to weigh in because so few former students of Mr. G's have done so thus far.
I am a young woman who attended Jordan at the time that the 1991 abuse took place and I also know the identity of the victim. Many of us who went to Jordan during those first years that the school reopened, were aware that Mr. G's interaction with girls at school seemed very inappropriate. I had him as a teacher for leadership class and he always made me very uncomfortable.
I have spoken to many of my classmates from Jordan and have yet to encounter a single person who was surprised to hear about Mr. G's arrest and conviction. More often the response was, "what took so long?"
Those of us who suspected the worst intimated as much to our peers and adults but without actual proof, we couldn't push the envelope any more than that. As teenagers we didn't possess the confidence to acuse an adult of such extreme behavior, now matter how much our instincts told us we were right. Moreover, as a teenage girl, I was just starting to develop a more mature understanding of how men and women relate to one another and also of how my relationships with grown men were becoming a bit more "delicate" in my transformation from a girl to a woman. I imagine many of my female peers felt the same.
Finally, I believed that there was absolutely no way the parents, teachers and administrators could be blind to what was taking place. They were always warning US to be on the lookout for warning signs. I imagined they MUST have seen what we saw and investigated Mr.G's behavior. Wasn't it the job of the adults to be vigilant over such matters? Again, as teenagers we had no idea that adults were capable of such denial, negligence and ignorance. Now as adults ourselves, we see how this can happen because we are all human. But that is a realization that comes only with a maturity not possessed by middle school age children.
It is very sad that this occurred and I only hope that everyone who has been impacted will be able to help prevent it, or at the very least identify it, in the future.
If you are interested in reading about Paly's reaction check out this site:
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