Former cardiologist sentenced for abusive sexual contact

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A Palo Alto cardiologist was sentenced to 8 months in prison for felony abusive sexual contact with a subordinate doctor Tuesday. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Northern District of California, John Giacomini, 73, of Atherton, pleaded guilty to the charge on March 2. He practiced cardiology for over 30 years and was chief of the cardiology section at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Palo Alto. 

In his plea, Giacomini repeatedly subjected a subordinate doctor to unwanted sexual contact, including hugging, kissing, and intimate touching while on Veterans Affairs Medical Center premises. 

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

However, according to DOJ, Giacomini continued to give her unwanted sexual advances, including when he aggressively groped her breasts, buttocks, and vagina during a meeting in her office in December 2017. 

Eventually, the victim resigned from her job, citing Giacomini‚Äôs behavior as her prime 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 main reason for reporting the events was to prevent other female doctors from suffering the same fate. 

According to DOJ, Giacomini could have received probation and home detention. However, Judge Beth L. Freeman gave him prison time because of the “egregiousness” of his crime, the pervasiveness of workplace sexual assault, and the courage the victim showed in coming forward.  

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