Doctor Convicted of Abusing Patients Found Dead at Rikers

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(Newser)

A New York neurologist awaiting sentencing for sexually assaulting his patients was found dead Monday at the Rikers Island jail. A New York City jury had convicted Dr. Ricardo Cruciani of two counts of rape, seven of criminal sexual acts, one of predatory sexual assault, and one of attempted rape, NBC News reports. Cruciani, 68, who faced life in prison, had been in jail for more than two weeks and was scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 14. He was found in a shower area of one of the buildings in the Rikers complex, and prosecutors said the cause appeared to be suicide. Cruciani’s lawyer confirmed the death, but not that it was a suicide, and called for an “an immediate and objective investigation,” per the AP.


Frederick Sosinsky said his client was supposed to be in protective custody and under a suicide watch. “Neither of these conditions were, to our knowledge, ever complied with,” the lawyer said. “Had they been, we would not be having this terrible discussion.” Hillary Tullin, who first reported Cruciani to a sexual abuse hotline in 2017, called it a sad day for victims who won’t be able to tell him the harm he’d done at sentencing. His death “was in no way a sign of remorse or guilt,” Tullin said. “He simply could not stand facing the rest of his life behind bars.”


Prosecutors told the court that Cruciani overprescribed pain killers to six women, then forced them to perform sexual acts to be given more of the medication. One assistant district attorney called him “evil in a white coat.” Cruciani’s lawyers said that “it appears that the collective weight of six accusers, rather than a fair consideration of each of their problematic accounts, carried the day” and that they would appeal. He was facing another trial next January on federal charges, accused of abusing patients over 15 years in his offices in three states. (Read more Rikers Island stories.)

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