Cardiologist pleads guilty to abusive sexual contact


John Giacomini, MD, has pleaded guilty to one count of abusive sexual contact of a female physician he was supervising, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced.

Dr. Giacomini, 73, of Atherton, California, had practiced medicine and cardiology for more than 30 years and served as chief of the cardiology section at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto from 1985 to 2018.

According to the statement from DOJ, starting in the fall of 2017, Dr. Giacomini repeatedly subjected a subordinate doctor to unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact, which included hugging, kissing, and intimate touching while on VA premises.

The victim explicitly told Dr. Giacomini she was not interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with him and forcibly resisted his repeated attempts to kiss her, the statement notes.

The abuse continued, culminating in December 2017 with the incident of abusive sexual contact, the DOJ says.

Afterward, the victim resigned from her position at the VA, citing Dr. Giacomini’s behavior as her principal reason for leaving.

“As a federal employee for well over 30 years, [Dr.] Giacomini was trained throughout his career on the prevention of workplace sexual assault and sexual harassment,” the DOJ says.

“As a supervisor and manager, [Dr.] Giacomini had an obligation to the VA and to his subordinates to prevent workplace sexual harassment and disclose any harassing behavior of which he became aware. He failed to do this,” the DOJ says.

A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Giacomini in March 2020, charging him with one count of abusive sexual contact. Dr. Giacomini has now pleaded guilty to the charge, a felony.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 12. Dr. Giacomini faces a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, restitution, and supervised release.

A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.

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