An Alaska Regional Hospital security guard who also works as a forensic scientist at the state's Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl who'd been alone in the hospital's emergency department waiting room.
John Giacalone has been charged with first- and second-degree sexual assault. The charges say he attacked the victim early Wednesday morning.
The girl told police she fell asleep in a chair in the ER waiting room of Alaska Regional Hospital at about 1 a.m. She awoke to a man in a security uniform standing over her, shaking her shoulders, the charges say. After reviewing video surveillance from the hospital, Anchorage police detectives determined Giacalone was the uniformed man.
No one else was in the waiting room, and the security guard said she needed to be searched, the charges say. Giacalone led the teenager to a small office and shut the door. Once inside the room, Giacalone asked the girl if she had anything in her pockets, the charges say. The girl said she didn't but the guard told her he needed to check for himself, and she'd have to take her pants off, according to the charges.
The girl asked for a female officer but Giacalone said none was available, according to the charges.
"Then he told her to take down her pants and she refused, so he took her pants and underwear off her hips, leaving them at her knees," the charges say. The charges allege Giacalone immediately started sexually assaulting the girl.
The girl punched Giacalone in the shoulder and scratched the top of his hands to stop him; the assault continued, and the man demanded that the girl perform various sexual acts, the charges say. When she refused, Giacalone allegedly began calling the girl a "bitch."
When the sexual assault was over and the girl headed for the door, Giacalone grabbed her and told her repeatedly not to tell anyone what had happened, according to the charges.
An Alaska Regional Hospital manager echoed the girl's description of the room to police, and it turned out to be the main security office. No camera is pointing toward the office, the charges say. Both the girl and Giacalone were captured on ER waiting room footage, however.
The management told police that "it was against protocol to take the female through the security door on the southwest side of the ER waiting area, and that Giacalone would have no legitimate reason to do such a thing."
Giacalone has been employed at Alaska Regional Hospital since 2007 and prior to Thursday worked as a part-time, as-needed security officer, according to a statement from the hospital. Once the hospital learned about the allegations, Giacalone was placed on administrative leave.
The hospital is conducting its own investigation as well as working with the Anchorage Police Department. It has not received any other complaints about Giacalone from former patients, visitors or staff members, according to the statement.
"We are greatly concerned for the well-being of the young woman who made these allegations," said Alaska Regional CEO Julie Taylor. "As the CEO of one of the largest hospitals in the state, and a mother of a young girl, I especially want to assure everyone that we are taking this situation extremely seriously. It is particularly disturbing to us because the allegations are against someone whose job it is to ensure the security of those on our campus. Further, our highest priority is the safety and well-being of every single person while they are at our hospital."
Alaska Department of Law Criminal Division director John Skidmore confirmed Giacalone is the same individual who works at the crime lab. Calls to the crime lab regarding Giacalone's employment status were not immediately returned.
According to Giacalone's statement of qualifications, published on the crime lab's website, he's been employed as a forensic scientist III since February 2003. A job description says his duties included examining fire debris and drug analysis. It also indicates he has given expert testimony during trials.
Giacalone worked as a first sergeant for the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory from 1981 to 2003.
This is the second time Giacalone has made headlines in association with the crime lab in the past four months. Giacalone was the whistle-blower who informed law enforcement that oxycodone and morphine reference standards at the lab had been diluted. The reference standard samples are used by the crime lab to compare suspected drugs seized by law enforcement.
A subsequent investigation led to the arrest of former forensic analyst Stephen Palmer, who, according to charges, used methamphetamine and heroin every day for six years out of the near-decade he'd been working at the crime lab.
Giacalone made an initial court appearance Thursday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex courtroom. He did not enter a plea. He will likely to do so at a July 22 pre-indictment hearing.
The court imposed a $250,000 cash performance bond and $250,000 cash appearance bond. Assistant district attorney Jenna Gruenstein noted that the first-degree sex assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 99 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.
Giacalone said during the hearing he makes upwards of $100,000. He told the judge he'd like an attorney, as he does not know if he still has a job.
The state prosecutor said Giacalone's crimes were predatory in nature, and given his wealth coupled with the amount of jail time he faces, she argued he was a flight risk and suggested the large bonds.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing