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.