SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Federal authorities have indicted Dr. John Giacomini, former Chief of Cardiology at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital, for alleged sexual battery against a female subordinate doctor at the hospital.
A federal grand jury in San Jose indicted Giacomini, 71, for abusive sexual contact with the unidentified woman while both were on duty at the Palo Alto VA hospital in December of 2017. The Atherton resident was accused of subjecting the victim to unwanted and nonconsensual sexual contact while he was the head of the hospital’s cardiology department, a position he held for more than 30 years.
Giacomini also served on the medical faculty at Stanford University. Since the alleged sexual battery happened on federal property, the VA Office of Inspector General referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution. Giacomini no longer works at the Palo Alto VA Hospital or Stanford University.
The Palo Alto Daily Post reported a VA memo about the investigation into Giacomini said he engaged in “a prohibited relationship with a subordinate” and created an “intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment.”
According to the Daily Post, the memo said the victim reported that Giacomini began giving her hugs when leaving her office during the fall of 2017, which then expanded to rubbing her back and kissing her neck, even as she told him that she did not want a relationship with him.
Over the next few months, the memo said Giacomini allegedly became more aggressive and began touching her breasts and buttocks and hugging her in a position such that her hands would be held against genitals, according to the Daily Post. Giacomini described their interactions as being consensual, according to the memo.
Giacomini made his initial appearance by telephone on Thursday and was on a $200,000 bond, federal prosecutors said. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 7.
Giacomini faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, a fine of $250,000, restitution, supervised release, and a special assessment. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed after consideration of federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said.