Formerly renowned pain doctor faces life for sexual assault charges.
The former neurologist and well-known chronic pain doctor, Ricardo Cruciani, 68, has been convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting dozens of his female patients over his 10+ years in practice. These patients stepped forward and reported the Cruciani had abused them during routine exams – some for years. He had administered large amounts of medication during the incidents, so he could remain in control, and took advantage of them, according to prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office during trial. If the patients resisted the abuse, Cruciani would withhold their prescriptions..
The doctor’s trial included the testimony of six women he treated in 2012 at Beth Israel Medical Center (now known as Mount Sinai Beth Israel), in Union Square and in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Prosecutors and witnesses told jurors that Cruciani’s “advances often began gradually. He would tightly embrace patients or run his fingers through their hair. But over time, his behavior escalated: the doctor groped women, kissed them without permission, and forced them to perform sex acts or have intercourse.”
The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, said, “Mr. Cruciani violated the public’s trust in medical workers by abusing his power over patients and intentionally taking advantage of their pain…Dr. Cruciani left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer from debilitating diseases, and now, years of trauma. Although we can never undo his horrific actions, I hope this conviction serves as a measure of justice.”
Fred Sosinsky, an attorney for Mr. Cruciani, responded to the verdict, saying he felt the trial court “committed a good number of legal errors,” and that they planned to appeal.
“It appears that the collective weight of six accusers, rather than a fair consideration of each of their problematic accounts, carried the day,” he said.
Court records documented numerous accounts of abuse, however, and alleged that administrators at several hospitals ignored the reported misconduct, allowing Cruciani to move from one location to another rather than following through with investigating the accusations. He was eventually arrested in 2017 for “indecent assault and indecent exposure” charges. But his defense team asked for a plea deal and Cruciani surrendered his medical license and registered as a sex offender rather than spending any time behind bars.
“Over the years,” prosecutors said, “he followed a similar pattern in each abuse case: He crafted personal bonds with his patients, questioning them about their upbringings, relationships and personal lives, and then would begin to sexually assault them. As patients returned, he increased their dosages or began prescribing new medications, and became more brazen in his behavior.”
Some of the patients would eventually develop drug addictions as a result and became reliant on their visits to the doctor to get their prescriptions refilled. Cruciani took full advantage of this by not only assaulting them during these visits but subsequently increasing their dosages to ensure they remained stuck.
Now that a verdict has been past down, the victims are finally vindicated. The doctor faces up to a lifetime in prison.