Neurologist guilty on 12 counts of sexually abusing patients
NEW YORK (AP) — A once-prominent neurologist was found guilty Friday on charges of sexually abusing patients while treating them with pain medications.
A New York City jury reached the verdict after deliberating for about three days at the trial of Dr. Ricardo Cruciani.
Cruciani, 68, was convicted on 12 criminal counts — one count of predatory sexual assault, one of attempted rape, one of sex abuse, two of rape and seven of criminal sexual acts. He was acquitted on two other counts.
“We entrust doctors to respect our bodies and health when we go to them for help, yet Dr. Cruciani utterly violated that duty,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. Cruciani, Bragg added, “left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer from debilitating diseases, and now, years of trauma.”
Cruciani had worked for several leading pain-management providers during his career. He has denied the sexual abuse allegations. His attorney, Fred Sosinsky, said Friday there would be an appeal.
“My client and his beautiful family are crushed by today’s verdict,” the lawyer said. “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.”
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Cruciani, who had been out on bail, was jailed after the verdict was announced.
Prosecutors alleged Cruciani groomed vulnerable patients by overprescribing pain killers, sometimes to treat serious injuries from car wrecks and other accidents.
Six women testified the sexual abuse often occurred behind closed doors during appointments in 2013 at a Manhattan medical center, where the doctor would expose himself and demand sex.
“He didn’t finish writing my prescriptions until I did something for him,” one told the jury.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Shannon Lucey called the behavior “just pure evil,” adding, “This defendant is nothing but a drug dealer who used his prescription pad as a weapon.”
Sosinsky countered by arguing the witnesses weren’t credible, telling the jury the women “were willing to lie” and “dispute the indisputable” to make the charges stick.
Among the witnesses at a trial that began seven weeks ago was Hillary Tullin, who helped fuel the case by calling a sexual abuse hotline in 2017 and reporting that Cruciani had abused her between 2005 and 2013.
“Mr. Cruciani and his lawyers were indefatigable in their attempts to portray me and the other witnesses as liars but the truth prevailed,” Tullin said Friday in response to the verdict. “What happened to us is real, it’s traumatic, and it can no longer be denied.”
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are survivors of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Tullin has done.
Cruciani is still facing federal charges accusing him of abusing multiple patients over 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, New Jersey.
The federal charges and state trial 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 misdemeanor groping counts involving seven patients.
This story has been corrected to show that Cruciani was found guilty on 12 criminal counts, not five.