Jordan Middle School's longtime coach and athletic director spent Palo Alto's first day back to school in jail facing charges that 14 years ago he forced an eighth-grade member of his volleyball team into a lengthy sexual relationship.

Bill Giordano, 59, was charged Monday with 28 counts of sexual molestation of a child who is 14 or older after a woman, now in her 20s, recently disclosed the alleged abuse to her therapist.

Parents, sports boosters and student athletes were quick to support the veteran volleyball and track coach after school officials sent home a letter about the arrest.

Prosecutors say Giordano approached the girl to babysit his son in 1991, but the job turned into weekly sexual encounters, during and after school, San Mateo County prosecutor Melissa McKowan said during a brief court appearance Monday.

The alleged abuse started when the girl was 14 and occurred from Dec. 1, 1991, to March 31, 1994, McKowan said. But she first reported the attack to authorities this summer.

Menlo Park police began investigating the coach in early August and arrested him at his home on Thursday, Sgt. Jim Simpson said.

With older cases like this one, said San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, prosecutors need to have corroborative evidence, such as a confession, a second victim or a medical finding. ``And we do,'' said Wagstaffe, although he wouldn't be specific.