By Elena Shao
Federal authorities have indicted John Giacomini, former chief of cardiology for the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Palo Alto, on a charge of abusive sexual conduct. At the time of the offenses, Giacomini also served on the medical faculty at Stanford Hospital and directed the Stanford Cardiology Fellowship.
An initial investigation conducted in fall 2018 by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that Giacomini violated VA workplace code of conduct by failing to maintain professional boundaries with his subordinates and creating an “intimidating, hostile, and offensive working environment through repeated behaviors of sexually harassing nature,” according to documents obtained by The Daily. Because the alleged sexual battery took place on federal property, the VA Office of Inspector General referred the investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.
At least two women who worked with Giacomini at the VA came forward, reporting repeated instances of physical and verbal sexual harassment, as well as “aggressive” pursuits of sexual relationships, stretching over a period of more than a decade. Some of the allegations of sexual advances and behaviors were corroborated by Giacomini himself at various times through his own testimony, according to the memo, though Giacomini had maintained in the memo that their interactions were consensual.
“She did not report him at the time because she believed he was going to retaliate against her, that he was her supervisor, and that he was well liked at both Stanford and at the VA,” the memo reads.
As cardiology chief at the Palo Alto VA, Giacomini had served in a supervisory role for over three decades.
Stanford Medicine placed him on leave in June 2018, and he retired later under threat of termination, Stanford Medicine spokesperson Julie Greicius wrote in a statement to The Daily. He also resigned from his position at the VA in October 2018, quietly assuming a role at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City to direct a heart valve replacement program. Sequoia’s communications manager Claire Henry did not respond to questions on whether Sequoia was aware or notified of previous allegations of sexual misconduct, but she did clarify that the medical director position was not one of employment, but of “administrative consultant.”
After a Thursday arraignment via telephone, Giacomini is free on a $200,000 bond, with another court appearance scheduled for July 7. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, followed by supervised release and a special assessment.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Julie Greicius told The Daily that John Giacomini resigned from his role with Stanford Medicine. Greicius told The Daily that Giacomini retired. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’ stanford.edu.