Pain Doctor Convicted of Sexually Abusing Patients Withheld Medication If They Didn't Comply with Demands

Ricardo Cruciani was found guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani walks from the center for criminal justice, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Philadelphia, after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges that he groped women at a clinic. The once-prominent neurologist has been found guilty Friday, July 29, 2022, in New York, on charges of sexually abusing patients while treating them with pain medications.
Dr. Ricardo Cruciani. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP Photo

After a monthlong trial in New York City, a jury found a former neurologist guilty of rape and other sex crimes, affirming the assertion from prosecutors that he got patients hooked on pain medication to keep them under his control.

On Friday, 68-year-old Ricardo Cruciani was found guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes.

"Ricardo Cruciani abused his power as a medical professional and knowingly took advantage of his patients' pain. We entrust doctors to respect our bodies and health when we go to them for help, yet Dr. Cruciani utterly violated that duty," said District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a press release. "Dr. Cruciani left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer from debilitating diseases, and now, years of trauma."

Cruciani, who surrendered his medical license in 2017 as part of a plea deal in a separate case, was considered highly esteemed in his field and regarded as a gifted doctor in relieving chronic pain.

But six women who Cruciani treated in 2012 at Beth Israel Medical Center — now known as Mount Sinai Beth Israel — accused him of developing personal relationships with each patient and using his psychiatry training to ask "intrusive and revealing questions about private matters," according to the press release.

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Cruciani initially initiated physical contact with victims by stroking their hair; he complimented their appearances and gave them uncomfortably tight hugs, the DA's office stated. Eventually, he would escalate his behavior, even calling one patient at home because he said he was thinking about her, The New York Times reported.

"Cruciani frequently forced his patients to perform sexual acts in order to receive prescriptions for addictive pain medications. Cruciani over-prescribed high doses of pain medications to the point of addiction, which ensured his patients could not leave his care despite the abuse," the District Attorney stated.

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

Following the guilty verdict, survivor Hillary Tullin, who testified at the trial, told The New York Times she was "beyond happy."

"As much as I've gone through trauma counseling and therapy," she told the Times. "I don't think it was until I got this verdict that I could finally say, I can start healing. I can start trying to rebuild my life again."

As for Cruciani, his attorney intends to appeal the verdict.

"It appears that the collective weight of six accusers, rather than a fair consideration of each of their problematic accounts, carried the day," attorney Fred Sosinsky said in a statement to the Times.

Cruciani is also facing federal charges in an indictment accusing him of abusing multiple patients for more than 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey, according to an indictment reported by the Associated Press.

Cruciani is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.

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