Former head of the Drexel University neurology department Ricardo Cruciani, who was put on probation last year for sexual assault charges in Philadelphia, was arrested Feb. 20 in New York for multiple counts of rape and other sex crimes.
Drexel fired Cruciani in March 2017, after being hired in 2016, and reported him to authorities when a patient came forward to complain about the neurologist’s conduct. Cruciani was arrested by Philadelphia police in September and his medical license was suspended in October.
Cruciani plead guilty in Philadelphia Municipal Court last November for acts against seven different women. He admitted to three counts of indecent assault and four counts of harassment by unwanted physical contact.
As a result of the charges in Philadelphia, Cruciani agreed to a plea deal to serve seven years on the sex offender registry, 15 years on the Megan’s Law registry and to never practice medicine again.
The current charges in Manhattan were brought about when a patient called the district attorney’s sex crime hotline about Cruciani, which led to an investigation and an arrest. The victim, 45-year-old Hillary Tullin, told authorities that Cruciani sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions from 2005 to 2012.
Cruciani plead not guilty Feb. 21 to multiple charges including rape in Manhattan Criminal Court. He was able to post his $1 million bond and was released. These new charges reflect the sexual abuse of six of his female patients at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital since 2013.
More than 17 women from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have accused Cruciani of sexual misconduct ranging from unwanted kisses, groping, masturbating in front of them, oral sex and sexual intercourse.
“There was nothing consensual about it. When you are being held in a locked office with someone for three hours, and you know that that person holds your health in his hands, you make a decision. And my decision was that I wanted to be able to walk again,” Tullin told Associated Press.
Since the neurologist was a specialist in dealing with chronic pain, many of the patients have said that they felt forced to continue seeing Cruciani because he was one of the few doctors that could treat their condition. He also allegedly withheld pain medication from patients that resisted his advances.
“Some of these women had been to more than a dozen pain management specialists or doctors for help to get relief from pain,” Jeff Fritz, attorney for the victims, told Metro. “He comes along, he’s helpful to them, and the only way that they’re going to continue to get care and treatment is by succumbing to what he’s asking for and doing to them.”
Neither Cruciani or his lawyer Mark Furman made any comments when Cruciani was released on bail.
“Dr. Cruciani’s employment with Beth Israel Medical Center ended in 2014. We are deeply disturbed to learn about these charges and have been working closely with the investigation being led by the District Attorney’s office,” a statement from the hospital said.
Cruciani worked at Capital Health Medical Center in New Jersey from 2014 to 2016. The center said that it received no complaints about the neurologist during his time there.
Drexel said that Cruciani’s background check during the hiring process did not reveal any improper or illegal conduct.