Neurologist faces federal charges for alleged sexual assault on patients

What you should know

  • A neurologist already facing charges for raping patients in New York and New Jersey was arrested Wednesday on new federal charges alleging he was a serial sexual abuser of women who came to him for help with chronic debilitating pain.
  • An indictment said that Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, who specialized in rare pain syndromes, abused multiple patients for 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, NJ.
  • The indictment described the doctor, now 63, grooming patients who depended on him for addictive opioid care and prescriptions, turning massages and hugs into gradually more invasive physical attacks and sexual demands.

NEW YORK – A neurologist already facing charges for raping patients in New York and New Jersey was arrested Wednesday on new federal charges alleging he was a serial sexual abuser of women who came to him for help with chronic pain. debilitating.

An indictment said that Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, who specialized in rare pain syndromes, abused multiple patients for 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, NJ.

The indictment described the doctor, now 63, grooming patients who depended on him for addictive opioid care and prescriptions, turning massages and hugs into gradually more invasive physical attacks and sexual demands.

If certain victims refused to engage in sexual acts, he retaliated by referring them to another medical provider who would not prescribe the same combinations or amounts of narcotics, according to the indictment.

“The alleged pattern of abuse in this case is outrageous,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a news release. “Doctors like the defendant take an oath not to do harm. It is difficult to imagine conduct more anathema to that oath than exploiting the vulnerability of patients to sexually abuse them. “

An attorney for Cruciani did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Cruciani, who lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, was arrested Wednesday morning in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania, and made an initial appearance Wednesday before a magistrate judge. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

He is under various conditions, including location-controlled home detention, delivery of travel documents, and a $ 2 million bond.

The federal charges follow years of public complaints by Cruciani’s accusers that authorities in some places were not taking his crimes seriously, particularly in Philadelphia, where he pleaded guilty to relatively minor crimes involving seven patients.

Attorney Jeff Fritz, who represents the accusers in the Cruciani lawsuits, released statements from two accusers: Hillary Tullin and Tanisha Johnson.

Tullin, who saw Cruciani for years and said she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, said she was “deeply grateful” to federal prosecutors, who said they “listened to the victims and refused to look the other way as they have. many others in this case. ” “

“He longed for the day when he would be held responsible for these heinous crimes,” Tullin said. “It has been almost four years since state charges were filed against him, but there is no trial date in sight. It has been hell in life. “

Johnson called the federal charges a relief, but said the hospitals that employed Cruciani are “just as, if not more, liable than he is.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who claim to be victims of sexual assault unless they give permission, as Tullin and Johnson have done.

Cruciani was charged with five counts of tempting and inducing people to travel between states to engage in illegal sexual activities. Each count carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The neurologist trained at prestigious Ivy League universities was released on a $ 1 million bond set in pending state criminal cases in New York and New Jersey.

Manhattan prosecutors charged him in May 2018 with 35 felonies, including rape and aggravated sexual assault. The cases have faced a series of postponements and delays. His next court appearance in Manhattan was scheduled for December 9.

According to the federal prosecution, Cruciani met with victims alone in an exam room, sometimes behind a closed door, in hospital rooms, in a hotel or in an apartment.

At times, he allegedly performed breast exams and vaginal exams on certain victims even though he was not an obstetrician or practicing gynecologist, according to the indictment.

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