VA Palo Alto Health Care System doctor pleads guilty to abusive sexual contact

VA Palo Alto Health Care System doctor pleads guilty to abusive sexual contact

PALO ALTO – A long-time VA Palo Alto Health Care System cardiologist has pleaded guilty to felony abusive sexual contact, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

John Giacomini, 73, of Atherton, entered his plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose. He faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in July.

Giacomini practiced medicine and cardiology from 1985 to 2018 and most recently served as the chief of the cardiology section at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

According to his plea agreement, Giacomini acknowledged he occupied a position of authority, prestige and influence within the health care system and at Stanford University, where he had a faculty appointment in the School of Medicine, prosecutors said.

As a federal employee, Giacomini was also trained on the prevention of workplace sexual assault and sexual harassment. In the fall of 2017, however, he began subjecting a subordinate doctor to unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact, including hugging, kissing and intimate touching while at the hospital, prosecutors said.

The victim told Giacomini she was not interested in a romantic relationship with him and forcibly resisted his repeated attempts to kiss her on the mouth, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 20, 2017, Giacomini turned out the lights, pulled the victim out of her chair, released the drawstring on her scrub pants and fondled her genitals until a custodian opened the office door and interrupted the encounter, prosecutors said. The victim later resigned from her position and cited Giacomini’s behavior as her principal reason.

A federal grand jury indicted Giacomini on March 12, 2020, charging him with one count of abusive sexual contact.

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