Ricardo Cruciani faces federal charges on top of state charges and civil lawsuits.
Ricardo Cruciani, a former pain management doctor, is facing federal criminal charges in New York for allegedly luring women to cross state lines in order to engage in illegal sexual acts in exchange for controlled substances. The former doctor took advantage of chronic pain patients for well over a decade, federal prosecutors contend. Cruciani, 63, who lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, was arrested in Pocono Pines, and the case will be heard by Judge John P. Cronan of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Cruciani, accused of overprescribing and sexually assaulting female patients, is also facing state criminal charges in both New York and New Jersey as well as several civil complaints.
Cruciani handed over his license to practice medicine in 2017 and registered as a sex offender after pleading guilty to sexual assaults in Pennsylvania. However, he never served prison time. Each of the five new federal counts against him carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and any assets gained from committing the alleged offenses could be seized by the government. Several of Mr. Cruciani’s former patients said that they “felt gratified” to see that the federal government filed charges.
“As a survivor of Mr. Cruciani’s repeated sexual assaults during his tenure as a pain management physician at Beth Israel, Capital Health and Drexel, I have longed for the day he would be held accountable for these heinous crimes,” said Hillary Tullin, a former patient. “It has been nearly four years since state charges were brought against him, yet there is no trial date in sight. It has been a living hell.”
“Doctors like the defendant take an oath to do no harm,” Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District, said. “It is difficult to imagine conduct more anathema to that oath than exploiting patients’ vulnerability in order to sexually abuse them.”
The 16-page federal indictment describes how the physician sucked his patients into a dangerous scheme of exploiting their need to control their pain in order to assault them. It reads, “he sought to engender their trust and prescribed addictive pain medication that caused patients to become dependent on him, even as he became increasingly abusive.”
Over fifteen period, from 2002 to 2017, Cruciani worked at several hospitals. Instead of scheduling appointment at these facilities, though, he “met with patients alone in hotel rooms or apartments as well as in hospital offices, where he often locked the door,” the indictment reads. He asked the patients about their “personal lives and shared details about his own life in an effort to get them to trust him, and he prescribed significant quantities of opioids.” Then, the doctor would require that his patients see him again in person in order to refill their addictive medications.
“Cruciani knew that the victims suffered from severe and excruciating, if not debilitating, pain, and that most pain doctors would not prescribe the same amounts of medication,” the indictment says, allegedly gross negligent in overprescribing. “Mr. Cruciani, at his discretion, could refuse to refill prescriptions,” asserting power and control over his patients.
He then, according to court documents, “started engaging in sexual abuse – doing medically unnecessary vaginal and breast exams, forcing the women to stimulate him manually or perform oral sex, masturbating in front of them and forcing them to have vaginal intercourse.”
Cruciani also made it difficult for the victims to break free because he would hold onto their medical records and refuse to release them to a new physician. Specifically, one victim, identified only as Victim 1, tried to switch doctors after being sexually assaulted. When she asked for her records to be transferred, Cruciani “refused to release them and said she would have to pick them up from him in person.”
In total, the indictment describes assaults on five unnamed women.