The former Menlo Park middle school coach who admitted a lengthy sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student was sentenced Friday to four years in prison, one year shy of the maximum allowed by his plea bargain but far from the dozens he faced when arrested last year.
William Giordano, 61, must also register as a convicted sex offender and serve at least 50 percent of his term before becoming eligible for parole.
Giordano said he was "deeply sorry" before sentencing but Judge James Ellis called his actions a betrayal of trust and leadership.
Giordano pleaded no contest to 10 counts of lewd acts with a child under 14 nearly five months ago. In return, prosecutor Melissa McKowan dropped 11 more charges and agreed not to seek more than five years prison. At the time, McKowan said the term is average for a case involving statutory charges.
Giordano, then in his 40s, engaged in a lengthy relationship with a 14-year-old girl between 1991 and 1994 while working at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto. The case came to light when the woman, now in her late 20s, began therapy. She reported to police that Giordano, her volleyball coach, asked her to baby-sit his 2-year-old son at their Menlo Park home and slowly groomed her toward a sexual relationship that grew into weekly encounters. In at least one instance, when the girl arrived to baby-sit she found the boy gone but a romantic candlelight dinner set up in the home.
Prosecutors initially linked Giordano to another victim but dropped the charges because she didn't want to cooperate. He was also accused of molesting a 13-year-old student three times in 2002. Those incidents were investigated at the time but Santa Clara County prosecutors never filed charges.
At previous court appearances, defense attorney Bill Stewart admitted his client had some contact with the victim but never elaborated.
Police arrested Giordano Aug. 18, right before the new school year began, and Palo Alto Unified School District placed him on leave pending the case's outcome. The district employed Giordano for more than two decades, including his time at Jordan.
He posted $1.01 million cash bail soon after his arrest and had since been free from custody. His sentencing allows the return of the full bail amount, a move Stewart unsuccessfully tried to expedite over the summer.
Although Giordano's sentence ends the criminal element of the case, his time in the court system is not over. In one month, Giordano and the Palo Alto School District begin a civil suit filed by the victim in late July. The suit alleges the district knew of the inappropriate relationship and failed to intervene. A case management conference is scheduled for Dec. 5.
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