NEW YORK (AP) — A once prominent neurologist was convicted Friday of sexually abusing patients while treating them with painkillers.
A New York jury returned the verdict after deliberating for about three days during Dr. Ricardo Cruciani’s trial.
Cruciani, 68, was found guilty of 12 counts – one count of predatory sexual assault, one of attempted rape, one of sexual abuse, two of rape and seven of criminal sex acts. He was acquitted on two other counts.
“We entrust doctors with respect for our bodies and our health when we ask them for help, but Dr. Cruciani totally violated that duty,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. Cruciani, Bragg added, “left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer debilitating illnesses, and now, years of trauma.”
Cruciani had worked for several major pain management providers during his career. He denied the allegations of sexual abuse. His attorney, Fred Sosinsky, said Friday there would be an appeal.
“My client and his in-laws are shocked by today’s verdict,” the lawyer said. “Ultimately, it appears that the collective weight of six accusers, rather than fair consideration of each of their problematic accounts, prevailed.”
Cruciani, who had been released on bail, was jailed after the verdict was announced.
Prosecutors alleged that Cruciani treated vulnerable patients by prescribing too many painkillers, sometimes to treat serious injuries from car wrecks and other accidents.
Six women testified that the sexual abuse often happened behind closed doors during appointments in 2013 at a Manhattan medical center, where the doctor exposed himself and demanded sex.
“He didn’t finish writing my prescriptions until I did something for him,” one told the jury.
In her 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 that the witnesses were not credible, telling the jury that the women “were willing to lie” and “dispute the indisputable” to keep the charges standing.
Among the witnesses in a trial that began seven weeks ago was Hillary Tullin, who helped fuel the case by calling a sex abuse hotline in 2017 and reporting that Cruciani assaulted her between 2005 and 2013 .
“Mr. Cruciani and his lawyers were tireless in their attempts to cast 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 we can’t deny it anymore.”
The AP generally does not identify people who say they are survivors of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Tullin did.
Cruciani still faces federal charges accusing him of abusing multiple patients over 15 years at his offices in New York, Philadelphia and Hopewell, New Jersey.
The federal charges and state trial follow years of public complaints from Cruciani’s accusers that authorities in some places weren’t taking his crimes seriously, particularly in Philadelphia, where he pleaded guilty to counts relatively minor offense involving seven patients.
This story has been corrected to show that Cruciani was convicted on 12 counts, not five.
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