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Neurologist Guilty Of Sexually Abusing Patients Found Dead On Rikers Island, Death Ruled Suicide By Hanging

Ricardo Cruciani, the 68-year-old neurologist convicted of raping multiple patients, hung himself in a shower at Riker’s Island, authorities say.

By Dorian Geiger
Neurologist Dr. Ricardo Cruciani walks from the center for criminal justice after pleading guilty

A neurologist convicted of sexually assaulting half a dozen patients, whom he groomed by over-prescribing them painkillers has died after hanging himself at Rikers Island.

Ricardo Cruciani, 68, was found dead by at around 6:30 a.m. on Monday at Rikers Island’s Eric. M. Taylor Center, New York City’s Department of Corrections confirmed.

Cruciani, who was found unresponsive by a shower facility, was pronounced dead on-scene, according to a spokesperson for the Fire Department of New York. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging following an autopsy by New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Tuesday.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina said in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com that the department will "conduct a preliminary internal review to determine the circumstances surrounding his death."

The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, which represents correction officers inside DOC facilities, which include Rikers Island, said Cruciani was not on suicide watch.

“Typically, when an inmate enters our custody for the first time, facing a serious high-profile crime, they are put under suicide watch, which requires an additional officer to supervise that inmate,” Benny Boscio, the union’s president, said in a statement. “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.”

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, who admitted groping women at a Philadelphia clinic

Frederick Sosinsky, Cruciani’s defense attorney, also called for a thorough investigation in the disgraced doctor’s death. Sosinksi claimed corrections officials neglected to place Cruciani in protective custody and under suicide watch, despite a court order directing them to do so.

“Neither of these conditions were, to our knowledge, ever complied with,” Sosinsky said in a statement, per CNN. “Had they been, we would not be having this terrible discussion. We are calling for an immediate and objective investigation into the actual circumstances of Ricardo’s death, including, most fundamentally, why in the world Corrections failed to follow the Court’s orders regarding placement of Ricardo.”

Oxygen.com has reached out to Sosinsky for comment.

The incident marks the 11th in-custody death of an inmate at a New York City Department of Correction facility. Per state protocol, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office and the New York City Department of Investigation will conduct an investigation into Cruciani’s death.

Cruciani was convicted on July 29 for sexually abusing six women patients at hospital in New York City and medical facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He was ultimately convicted on a dozen charges, including sexual assault, abuse, and rape. 

Cruciani, who was widely regarded as a gifted neurologist, previously worked at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. 

According to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com, Cruciani used his psychiatric training to manipulate patients, forming personal relationships with his victims. Prosecutors say he often initiated inappropriate physical contact by “stroking” patients’ hair and giving them “tight hugs.” He also over-prescribed patient victims “dangerously high doses” of pain medication, which he withheld if they refused his sexual demands — which included sexual intercourse or oral sex at his medical office, charging documents stated.

During trial, prosecutors described Cruciani as “evil in a white coat” and a “devious man” who preyed on “broken and complex” women.

“You will see that each had a history, a demeanor, a broken past that made them his perfect victim,” Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey said at his trial. “He built trust in each of them. He pathologically got to know their weaknesses and their vulnerabilities.”

Cruciani’s sentencing had been scheduled for Sept. 14.

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