News

Teacher pleads not guilty to engaging in sex acts with juvenile

Woman previously taught at schools in Palo Alto, Redwood City

A local teacher with Palo Alto ties who was charged with engaging in sex acts with a juvenile pleaded not guilty to all charges during a court appearance on Monday, Nov. 5.

Redwood City resident Dawn Giannini, 49, appeared at a hearing Monday at which her attorney asked a judge to let her defense continue to review the police reports and conduct an investigation, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Judge Donald Ayoob granted the request.

Giannini waived her right to a speedy preliminary hearing, Wagstaffe wrote in an email.

Giannini was arrested on Oct. 18 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 county charged Giannini with 24 felony counts, including lewd acts with a child and sexual penetration with a foreign object, on Thursday, Oct. 24.

The videos were shot from 2014 to 2015 in Redwood City and Santa Cruz County when the victim was 14 years old, according to the District Attorney's Office. The victim is related to Giannini.

Giannini taught at schools in Redwood City and Palo Alto, where she spent the 2015-16 academic year at St. Elizabeth Seton School. 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 case has been continued to Nov. 26, when the judge will set a preliminary hearing date, according to Wagstaffe.

Giannini remains in custody on a $1.75 million bond.

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Angela Swartz writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Please Be Accurate
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Please state which schools in Palo Alto. As far as I know she has never taught in PAUSD, so please verify the accuracy of your statements.


2 people like this
Posted by Say What?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm

> from the PA Weekly... The county charged Giannini with 24 felony counts, including lewd acts with a child and sexual penetration with a foreign object, on Thursday, Oct. 24...The victim is related to Giannini.

A most peculiar and embarrassing incident for any family to endure.

What was the defendant thinking?


3 people like this
Posted by PAUSD isn't the only game in town
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2018 at 3:11 pm

PAUSD isn't the only game in town is a registered user.

@Please be Accurate - in an earlier article it was written that she has taught at St Elizabeth Seton School.


1 person likes this
Posted by what in the world?
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2018 at 5:46 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by VenturaResident
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:56 am

@Curious: Out justice system is not really about guilt or innocence. The prosecutors load on as many charges as possible. If the accused doesn't want to accept the full punishment or all the charges they plead not guilty and work towards having the charges reduced and sentences lightened. Once the plea deal is negotiated they can accept the arrangement or --plead guilty to lessor charges--go to trial.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:14 am

Posted by Curious, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

[Portion removed.]

Yes, the way the system works, pretty much any time felonies are committed, the "not guilty" plea is entered. It doesn't say that the person is "claiming innocence", or anything else. It is just that if someone pleads guilty, their legal representation is mostly powerless at that point. If they enter a "not guilty" plea, their lawyer can, for example, negotiate a plea bargain agreement. Also, some charges may be contested and may get dropped during the process. It also wouldn't be surprising that in a really nasty case, the charges were somewhat excessive or overlapping or whatever, with the assumption that some charges will be dropped along the way-- that is to say, "overcharging" and "pleading innocent to everything" are both legal approaches and just how the system works. I am not making any comment whatsoever on the particulars of this case, just a generalization about how the process works.

The Palo Alto school mentioned, St. Elizabeth Seton School, is a private school (on Channing) and has nothing whatsoever to do with PAUSD, to address another issue. However, substitute teachers sometimes teach in different places, so it is quite possible that Giannini was a sub at some PAUSD schools at some point.


Like this comment
Posted by Audree
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 6:49 pm

[Post removed.]


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