History teacher Robert DiGiacomo forcibly kissed a 17-year-old schoolgirl on the night of her graduation from Mount Saint Agnes Academy and later went to her home with a gift of jewellery.
The woman, referred to as Ms X to protect her identity, told The Royal Gazette the two incidents happened in 1981, when Mr DiGiacomo would have been 27.
She said she remembered him starting work at the Catholic private school in Hamilton during her four years there and being a “cocky” young man who tried to appear “cool” to the pupils.
Ms X said: “In retrospect, he was weird and creepy, but I was one of those students who always wanted to do what the teacher said. I always wanted to please the teacher.
“There were times when he would ask me to stay behind after class and chat. I could occasionally be a smart arse. He would single me out and say he wanted to speak with me after class.
“I had a boyfriend at the time who was away in boarding school. He would want to know how my boyfriend was.
“He was a referee for basketball and I played on the teams, so would see him after school. In the classroom, in athletics, he was always there.”
She said Mr DiGiacomo got more familiar with her over time.
Ms X added that on graduation night, she attended a party with fellow pupils in Point Shares and Mr DiGiacomo was there, along with a few other teachers.
She said the pupils planned to go on to the Disco 40 nightclub.
Ms X added: “I thought he had left and gone, but he came around the steps.
“He stood in front of me and blocked the path. He said it was graduation, we weren’t going to be seeing so much of one another.
“I just remember he grabbed my shoulders and started to kiss me in a way that was not appropriate.
“It was a tongue-down-the-throat kiss. I’m surrounded by classmates and a teacher has just stuck his tongue down my throat.”
Ms X said she was embarrassed and humiliated after the incident.
She added: “Students had been drinking. I don’t think it registered as much for them, but it did for me.
“I remember being freaked out by it and getting on the bike and going into town.”
She said Mr DiGiacomo showed up at her house a couple of days later.
Ms X added: “He said, ‘I have got something for you’. I went out and we were sitting on the front porch.
“He gave me this gift; it was a little gold necklace.
“His wife was pregnant at the time. He then proceeded to tell me they weren’t having any sex. I remember being very freaked out.
“Even though I had technically graduated, I was 17. I went in to my dad, and said ‘he’s telling me things’.
“My father came out. He said ‘Bob, this isn’t really appropriate’. Then they had a heart to heart.”
Ms X’s parents knew Mr DiGiacomo because the families went to the same Catholic church, St Patrick’s in Smith’s.
Ms X said she told her parents about graduation night after the incident at her home.
She added that, even now, she found it “very uncomfortable” to see Mr DiGiacomo, who is now 65.
Ms X said: “If I see him on the street, I cross the street.
“Many years later, my father came to me and said he’d been approached by MSA to see if anything had happened to me with Bob DiGiacomo.
“Dad said, ‘Do you mind if I tell them what happened?’ I said I certainly did not mind ‘and don’t forget the part where he shoved his tongue down my throat’.
“He just said they were looking into Bob DiGiacomo’s behaviour. He was just asked to report on what had happened to me and the conversation on the porch.”
Ms X said she later heard a rumour that Mr DiGiacomo had done something to a pupil and had been sacked.
She added that Christine DaCosta later approached her and asked her to talk about what had happened to her in 1981.
Ms X said: “She sent me an e-mail. It made my heart drop. I felt bad on a lot of levels … bad that she had had a horrible experience and … that she was younger than me.
“Having children of my own, I was aware you have to talk about these things. I thought if [only] I had said something.
“Then I agreed to meet with her. I said I would do whatever I could to help her, and that if she ever needed me to tell my story, I would.”
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