Doctor who sexually abused patients kills himself in jail

Aug 14, 2022, 11:18 PM | Updated: Aug 15, 2022, 3:58 pm
FILE - Dr. Ricardo Cruciani walks from the center for criminal justice, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in ...

FILE - 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. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A once-prominent neurologist convicted last month of sexually abusing patients killed himself Monday at a New York City jail, two people familiar with the matter said.

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, 68, was found unresponsive in a shower area at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a jail at the notorious Rikers Island complex, the people said. They were not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

Cruciani’s lawyer, Frederick Sosinsky, confirmed in a statement that his client had died, but not the manner of death.

“Ricardo’s attorneys and family are shocked and saddened beyond belief to have learned of his violent death while in city custody this morning,” he said.

Prosecutors said Cruciani groomed vulnerable patients by overprescribing painkillers, 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.

“I take comfort knowing he now faces another judge,” said Terrie Phoenix, who testified against Cruciani at trial.

He was also scheduled to go on trial next January on federal charges accusing him of abusing multiple patients over 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, New Jersey.

Cruciani denied abusing women. In court, his lawyer questioned the credibility of his accusers.

Sosinsky called for “an immediate and objective investigation” into the circumstances of his death, including whether jail officials complied with a court order at the time of his conviction to place him in protective custody and under suicide watch.

“Neither of these conditions were, to our knowledge, ever complied with,” Sosinsky said. “Had they been, we would not be having this terrible discussion.”

Benny Boscio, president of the correctional officers’ union, said high-profile inmates are typically placed on suicide watch and monitored by an additional officer when they first enter the jail.

“The fact that this inmate wasn’t put under suicide watch raises serious questions. Our officers were not responsible for this tragic incident, which was clearly a managerial failure,” he said.

Cruciani died while awaiting sentencing next month in a New York state case in which he was convicted of 12 counts, including predatory sexual assault, rape and sex abuse, and acquitted on two other counts. He faced up to life in prison.

Cruciani’s act “was in no way a sign of remorse or guilt,” said Hillary Tullin, who also testified and who helped fuel the case by calling a sexual abuse hotline in 2017. “He simply could not stand facing the rest of his life behind bars.”

Tullin called it a “sad day for all of his victims who will never get to have finality and never have the chance to address the defendant to tell him directly how his crimes greatly impacted their lives.”

Jeffrey Fritz, who represents 30 women who say they were victimized by Cruciani, including Phoenix and Tullin, said many of his clients “feel cheated of criminal justice.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are survivors of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Phoenix and Tullin have done.

The fire department said it responded to a call of an unconscious inmate at the jail around 5:50 a.m. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate him but were unable, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the department said.

The city’s Department of Correction, which runs Rikers Island, confirmed that an inmate at the Eric M. Taylor Center died Monday, but did not release his name, citing pending family notification. The cause of death is under investigation, the department said.

Jails commissioner Louis Molina said in a statement he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the inmate’s death, and promised “a preliminary internal review to determine the circumstances surrounding his death.”

Cruciani is at least the 11th person to die in a city jail this year. Last year, 16 people died in city jails — the most since 2013.

The Daily News was first to report Cruciani’s death.

A message seeking comment was left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case that ended in his July 29 conviction.

Cruciani was out on bail during the trial but was sent to Rikers Island after the verdict.

The complex, troubled by years of neglect, has spiraled into turmoil since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with a spike in inmate deaths, violence, self-harm and staff absences. The city has said it will close Rikers Island by 2027, replacing it with four smaller jails located elsewhere.

__

Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. __

On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Michael Rubinkam at twitter.com/michaelrubinkam

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left,...
Associated Press

Asian shares rise after ‘relief rally’ on Wall Street

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Tuesday, encouraged by a rally in U.S. shares after some weak economic data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve might ease away from aggressive interest rate hikes. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.8% in afternoon trading to 26,959.25. South Korea’s Kospi gained 2.5% to 2,209.98. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who is running for reelection, speaks about prescriptio...
Associated Press

Both candidates courting veterans in Nevada Senate race

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Common sense more than any campaign strategy dictated that Adam Laxalt not trumpet his own military service in Nevada’s sometimes-heated Republican Senate primary. After all, the ex-attorney general, who served as a Navy judge advocate general in Iraq, was running against retired Army Capt. Sam Brown, a war hero who was […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Philip Lowe speaks in Sydney, Australia, Thursday,...
Associated Press

Australian central bank lifts cash rate to 9-year high 2.6%

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s central bank on Tuesday boosted its benchmark interest rate for a sixth consecutive month to a nine-year high of 2.6%. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s increase of a quarter percentage point to the cash rate was smaller than those at recent monthly meetings. The banks had hiked the rate by […]
24 hours ago
Elaine Moore stands next to a dry irrigation canal and almond orchard near her property, where two ...
Associated Press

California wells run dry as drought depletes groundwater

FAIRMEAD, Calif. (AP) — As California’s drought deepens, Elaine Moore’s family is running out of an increasingly precious resource: water. The Central Valley almond growers had two wells go dry this summer. Two of her adult children are now getting water from a new well the family drilled after the old one went dry last […]
24 hours ago
Seattle Mariners including Jesse Winker, left; Ty France, third from right; Logan Gilbert, second f...
Tim Booth, Associated Press

Mariners end two decades of misery returning to postseason

Baseball is fun again in the Pacific Northwest in a way that it hasn’t been in more than two decades. The longest postseason drought in the four major professional sports ended Friday night when the Mariners earned a long-coveted spot in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
24 hours ago
The steeple lays on its side atop Southwest Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 2, ...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian shakes SW Florida’s faith but can’t destroy it

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — In darkness and despair, there were flickers of light and hope, even for Jane Compton who lost her home and possessions to Hurricane Ian’s wrath. As the storm approached last week, she and her husband found sanctuary at their Baptist church, huddling with fellow parishioners through wind, rain and worry. […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Doctor who sexually abused patients kills himself in jail