Former teacher sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison for sex acts with minor | News | Palo Alto Online |


Former teacher sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison for sex acts with minor

Dawn Giannini initially faced 24 felony counts, pleaded no contest to 4 charges

A former Palo Alto teacher charged with engaging in sex acts with a minor was sentenced to six years and eight months in state prison on Jan. 17, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Judge Jeffrey Finigan handed down the sentence in concluding the case against Redwood City resident Dawn Giannini, 50, who pleaded no contest to four of the 19 felony charges she faced, according to the DA's office. Those charges included lewd acts with a child and sexual penetration with a foreign object.

During the sentencing hearing, Wagstaffe said, Judge Finigan stated that this was "one of the worst such cases he has seen," and that he considered allowing withdrawal of the no contest plea in order to set a higher sentence, but decided against it.

Giannini was arrested on Oct. 18, 2018, after a Woodside High School student alerted the school's principal of several online videos of a female classmate engaged in sexual acts with Giannini, Wagstaffe said.

The DA's office initially charged Giannini with 24 felony counts on Oct. 24, 2018. "My deputy DA dismissed the other charges as part of the negotiated plea bargain," Wagstaffe told The Almanac this week.

The videos were shot from 2014 to 2015 in Redwood City and Santa Cruz County when the victim was 16 or 17 years old, according to the DA's office. The girl is related to Giannini.

Giannini taught at schools in Redwood City and Palo Alto. She was substitute teaching when she was arrested, Wagstaffe said. He did not know the name of the school where she most recently worked.

The victim's father delivered a victim impact statement and the prosecutor read a statement written by the victim during the sentencing hearing, Wagstaffe said. Giannini's attorney, Eric Hove, noted that she had "no criminal record, that the defendant had been a prior sexual abuse victim and that the defendant confessed to the conduct very early, and asked for a four-year prison sentence," Wagstaffe said. The defendant addressed the court and apologized for her actions, according to the DA's Office.

As part of her sentencing, Giannini will also have to register as a sex offender and pay $700 in restitution to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office; she is also barred from contacting the victim for 10 years, according to the DA's office.


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Angela Swartz writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of

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2 people like this
Posted by $700 Fine
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 24, 2020 at 12:49 am

How much real time in prison? In what decade does she get locked up? At least she'll pay a $700 fine - or owe it.

9 people like this
Posted by Jailhouse Rock
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 24, 2020 at 9:58 am

>> How much real time in prison?

^^^ As a former county jail inmate myself, if she was arrested in October of 2018 & had been remanded to jail (due to high bail or judge's orders) she may already have credit for time least 14 months or so. That number will be subtracted from the prison term + there will be allowances for good behavior.

It should also be noted that inmates in county jail get double-credit for time other words, 2 days of incarcerated credit for every one day served.

So she may have 28 months credit already...that's a little over two years.

It is oftentimes better to remain in jail if you already know you are going to be judged guilty as charged.

The food isn't all that good but it's free room & board. The key is to be in General Population & not lockdown which is reserved for the mentally ill and violent offenders.

Just sleep & watch TV all day!

1 person likes this
Posted by retiree
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2020 at 4:05 pm

"Just sleep & watch TV all day!" - Sounds like an old-folks home.

Like this comment
Posted by Mina
a resident of University South
on Jan 25, 2020 at 9:12 am

Parents were living in a sick world today don’t let your children out of your sight. Don’t trust anyone with your babies. My 13-year-old niece snuck out and went to her friend's birthday party, by the time we arrived at the birthday house. We discovered that both birthday girls parents, we’re high off Marijuana.

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