MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A prominent Mid-South businessman has reached a plea agreement in a rape case.
On Thursday, 53-year-old Mark Giannini entered an Alford plea, which means he pleaded guilty but maintained his innocence.
The 23-year-old victim said Giannini raped her at his home in Eads after she applied for a job in October 2013. The district attorney’s office says she worked for one day as Giannini’s personal assistant at his home from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then the two had drinks and swam in his pool.
According to the DA’s office, it was when the victim went to leave that Giannini removed his swimsuit and sexually assaulted her.
Giannini was originally indicted on aggravated rape charges, but he pleaded to aggravated assault as part of the agreement. According to the DA’s office, the victim approved the lesser charge to avoid a trial.
Giannini was sentenced to four years of probation. As part of the settlement, a 2002 rape case and a pending bribery case were dismissed.
“Mr. Giannini said today he’s not guilty of this offense. He’s taking a plea to resolve all of the cases that are pending and to put all of this behind him,” said Bill Massey, attorney.
The cases against Giannini made headlines repeatedly for the sordidness of his lifestyle admitted to by his attorney Steve Farese who also said sordid or not it was not illegal.
In 2017 Giannini was acquitted of raping a woman in 2014, a woman who said she was seeking job with Giannini.
In court the woman testified, “He told me I had to take my clothes off and he started raping me.”
But defense attorneys said she knew what she was getting into.
“He’s gone through the emotional ringer, the financial ringer. He said he just wanted to get it over with while maintaining his innocence," said Farese.
Giannini will have to report to a probation officer. If he violates probation, he will have to serve the four years.
He is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by one of the women accusers.