Neurologist Ricardo Cruciani Convicted of Rape
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New York Jury Convicts Neurologist on a Dozen Counts for Raping and Sexually Assaulting Six of His Patients

 

Ricardo Cruciani

A New York jury convicted a former pain management doctor and neurologist of raping, abusing and sexually assaulting six of his patients whom he hooked on opioids, the district attorney’s office announced on Friday.

Ricardo Cruciani, 68, has now stands convicted on a dozen charges, including a count of predatory sexual assault, one count of attempted rape in the first degree, one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, two counts of rape in the third degree, and seven counts of criminal sexual act in the third degree.

His sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 14. The predatory sexual assault charge is itself punishable by up to life in prison.

“We entrust doctors to respect our bodies and health when we go to them for help, yet Dr. Cruciani utterly violated that duty. Dr. Cruciani left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer from debilitating diseases, and now, years of trauma,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) wrote in a statement. “Although we can never undo his horrific actions, I hope this conviction serves as a measure of justice for the brave survivors who came forward to share their stories and endured this long and painful trial.”

According to federal and local authorities, Cruciani had offices throughout the tri-state area of the U.S. Northeast, including in Manhattan, Hopewell, N.J, and Philadelphia, Penn. — and he left a trail of trauma in all three of those states. Cruciani also faces a federal trial next year. In that case, Cruciani has been charged with five counts of enticement and inducement to travel and engage in unlawful sexual activity, each of which carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

Between 2002 and 2017, Cruciani abused women for about 15 years and, leveraging his access to opioids, “persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced certain victims to travel across state lines to subject them or attempt to subject them to unlawful sexual abuse,” federal prosecutors say.

According to the WABC-TV, Cruciani had been chairing Drexel University’s neurology department when he pleaded guilty to assaulting seven patients in 2016. His plea agreement reportedly called for a 7-year sentence of probation. He also had to register as a sex offender and forfeit his medical license, the station reported.

The New York City trial focused mainly on six of Cruciani’s patients at Beth Israel Medical Center, though it also touched upon conduct at facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Each of the women had complex pain diseases which led them to seek out Cruciani, who was highly esteemed within the medical field,” the DA’s office said in a press release.

Prosecutors say that Cruciani talked about his family matters and other personal issues with patients in order to build a relationship and exploited his training as a psychiatrist to ask “intrusive and revealing questions about private matters.”

“Cruciani initiated physical contact by stroking his patients’ hair, complimenting their appearance and giving them uncomfortably tight hugs,” the DA’s office said. “Eventually, Cruciani progressed to forcibly kissing the women, groping them, and compelling them to perform oral sex and have sexual intercourse.”

Beyond sexual abuse, Cruciani left his victims with other harms.

“When patients sought outside care, some doctors refused to see them because of the dangerously high doses they were prescribed,” the DA’s office said. “The survivors were left with opioid addictions, sexual trauma, and without proper medical care for their extremely rare and painful diseases.”

While Cruciani’s attorney called the verdict crushing, he said the legal team is “confident” mistakes were made by the trial court.

“My client and his beautiful family are crushed by today’s verdict. In the end, it appears that the collective weight of six accusers, rather than a fair consideration of each of their problematic accounts, carried the day,” attorney Frederick Lawrence Sosinsky said in a statement to Law&Crime.” Nevertheless, there were, we are confident, a good number of legal errors committed by the trial court that we look forward to remedying before the appellate courts.”

Counsel for multiple survivors, attorneys Jeffrey Fritz and John Pumphrey of Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., released statements of their clients rebuking attempts by Cruciani’s lawyers to discredit them.

“Mr. Cruciani and his lawyers were indefatigable in their attempts to portray me and the other witnesses as liars but the truth prevailed,” survivor Hillary Tullin, who chose to step forward publicly under her full name, said in a statement. “What happened to us is real, it’s traumatic, and it can no longer be denied.”

Another survivor, who lived in Dutchess County, New York at the time of the events, reacted to the verdict anonymously.

“Cruciani preyed on vulnerable patients and today his victims were given back their power,” she said.

Two other victims, both from New Jersey, expressed their gratitude for the verdict, with one stating: “After feeling
imprisoned under his care and for the years of seeking justice, I feel that I can truly start to heal.”

Update—Friday, July 29 at 2:06 p.m. Eastern Time: This story has been updated to add comment by the survivors.

(Screenshot via WABC-NY)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.