Palo Alto Doc Gets Prison Term for Sex Abuse at VA Med Center

A Palo Alto cardiologist was sentenced on Tuesday to eight months in prison for felony abusive sexual contact with a subordinate doctor, the U.S. Department of Justice Northern District of California announced.

John Giacomini, 73, of Atherton, pleaded guilty to the charge on March 2. He practiced medicine and cardiology for over 30 years, the DOJ said, and from 1985 to 2018 he was the chief of the cardiology section at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Palo Alto.

According to his plea, Giacomini repeatedly subjected a subordinate doctor to unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact, including hugging, kissing and intimate touching while on the VA premises.

In November 2017, the victim told Giacomini that she was not interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with him. She said she also forcibly resisted his repeated attempts to kiss her on the mouth.

Nevertheless, the DOJ said, Giacomini continued to subject her to unwanted sexual advances, which culminated in December of 2017 when he aggressively groped her breasts, buttocks and vagina during a meeting in her office.

The victim eventually resigned from her job, citing Giacomini's behavior as her principal reason for leaving.

On Tuesday, she told the court about the harm she suffered.

“I felt overwhelming disappointment that my chief and former mentor who I trusted would abuse his position like that,” she said. “During that period at the VA, I felt a myriad of emotions, from fear to helplessness to disgust to anger and finally sadness.”

The woman said her primary reason for reporting the events was to prevent other female doctors from suffering her fate.

Giacomini could have received probation and home detention, the DOJ said, but U.S. District Court Judge Beth L. Freeman gave him prison time due to the "egregiousness" of his crime, the pervasiveness of workplace sexual assault, and the courage the victim showed in coming forward.

In addition to prison, Giacomini will serve one year of supervised release, pay a fine of $15,000, and pay mandatory special assessment fees.




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