EDITOR'S NOTE: All charges against John Giacalone have since been dropped. This story contains details of a sexual assault; reader discretion is advised. Details which may identify the victim have been omitted from this story.
ANCHORAGE -- An Alaska Regional Hospital security guard who also works at Alaska’s state crime lab has been arrested after prosecutors say he sexually assaulted a teenage girl in a security office at the hospital early Wednesday.
John Giacalone, 56, is charged with one count each of first- and second-degree sexual assault.
At Giacalone’s Thursday arraignment, prosecutor Jenna Gruenstein described his actions as “predatory,” saying he abused his position as a security guard to coerce the 17-year-old victim into a secure area and perform sexual acts on her.
Giacalone asked for a public defender. When a judge asked how much he earned, Giacalone said he made over $100,000 a year.
According to a Thursday criminal complaint against Giacalone, the woman was exhausted and sleeping in a chair at about 1 a.m. Wednesday in the waiting area of Alaska Regional Hospital’s emergency room.
“(The woman) said she woke to a male wearing a cop/security uniform shaking her shoulders,” officials wrote. “The man was wearing a badge and dark blue uniform pants and shirt. No one else was in the waiting area at the time. The uniformed man told her she needed to be searched and she needed to follow him.”
After the woman and Giacalone were together in a small office -- which she said had “three chairs, a desk and papers pinned to a bulletin board” -- with the door closed, he allegedly asked her if she had objects in her pockets. When she said she didn’t, he insisted on seeing for himself.
“The man said he needed to check, and she needed to take the pants off,” officials wrote. “She said no, if you’re going to do that I need to have a female officer. The man told her a female officer was not available. 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.”
According to the complaint, Giacalone allegedly touched the woman’s genitals and forced her to touch his. The woman said she punched him during the incident and told him “no” and “stop” throughout, refusing a request to touch herself.
“(The woman) said she started walking for the door, when the suspect stopped her by grabbing her shoulders and told her several times not to tell anyone what just happened,” officials wrote. “(She) kept saying ‘OK’ over and over again, and then she exited the room and walked toward the ER waiting area.”
The Anchorage Police Department investigated the incident, reviewing security footage from cameras at the hospital. The guard who spoke with the woman, confirmed to be Giacalone, was seen escorting her from the waiting area into the ER’s secure area.
“Giacalone and (the woman) cannot be seen on the next camera in the direction they walked, and there are only two offices off-camera, one of which is the main security office,” officials wrote. “The main security office has three chairs, a desk and a bulletin board with papers pinned to it, matching the victim’s description. There is no camera pointing directly at the security office.”
Managers at the hospital described Giacalone’s actions as inconsistent with Alaska Regional policy.
“ARH management told (police) that it was against protocol to take the female through the secure door on the southwest side of the ER waiting area, and that Giacalone would have had no legitimate reason to do such a thing,” officials wrote.
On Thursday, Giacalone’s bail was set at $250,000 each in appearance and performance bonds, with a court-approved third-party custodian required for release. He will next appear in court Monday.
Alaska Regional Hospital CEO Julie Taylor said Thursday afternoon that Giacalone is on administrative leave.
"We are taking this situation extremely seriously," White wrote in a release. "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."
Giacalone is the second crime lab employee to be charged with a serious crime this year. In a case under investigation since January, Stephen Palmer was charged in March with tampering with drugs kept at the lab, including samples used to determine the purity of seized drugs. Palmer’s arrest prompted an outcry from defense attorneys, who said his actions might have compromised the state's cases against their clients.
Channel 2’s Austin Baird and Samantha Angaiak contributed information to this story.