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Prosecutors Call Doctor Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Female Patients 'Evil In A White Coat'

Prosecutors said in the opening statements Monday that Dr. Ricardo Cruciani targeted "broken and complex” women in order to use his power as a physician to sexually abuse them.

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

Prosecutors described a New York pain management doctor as “evil in a white coat,” as his trial for sexually assaulting his female patients got underway earlier this week.

Ricardo Cruciani is being tried on 15 sexual misconduct counts, including rape, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse and predatory sexual assault. Prosecutors allege the 67-year-old used his position of power to molest his patients and force them to perform sexual acts.

Kay Nguyen, a press officer for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, told Oxygen.com that jury selection began on June 13 and the trial kicked off with opening statements Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey described the doctor to jurors Monday as “a small devious man who could have used his highly intelligent ways for good instead of bad,” according to The New York Post.

Lucey said Cruciani found his victims by targeting “broken and complex” women who had come to his office for help.

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

The indictment, obtained by Oxygen.com, accuses Cruciani of engaging in oral sexual contact when the victims were “incapable of consent,” forcibly touching victims between their legs and breasts and engaging in sexual intercourse with a victim “incapable of consent.”

Six alleged victims, who were patients at Cruciani’s Beth Israel Medical Center Practice, are expected to testify at the trial.

In his own opening statements, Cruciani’s defense attorney Fred Sosinsky told jurors that there would be “very good” and “fantastic” reasons to cast doubt on the women’s accounts.

“Each of the witnesses are playing fast and loose with dates, months and years and accounts and stories,” he said. “All these things supposedly took place in a busy, crowded office on 14th Street in Union Square.”

Nguyen said prosecutors expect the trial to continue through the end of July.

In total, Cruciani is facing one charge of predatory sexual assault, one charge of attempted rape in the first degree, three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, two counts of rape in the third degree, seven counts of criminal sexual act in the third degree and one charge of aggravated sexual abuse in the fourth degree in the trial.

The once-prominent doctor is additionally facing five federal counts of enticing and inducing individuals to travel interstate to engage in illegal sexual activity after federal prosecutors said in October that, over the course of 15 years, he “enticed and induced multiple victims” to travel to his medical offices in New York, Hopewell, New Jersey and Philadelphia and then sexually abused them.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, told Oxygen.com that trial is slated to begin Jan. 23, 2023.

“As alleged, Ricardo Cruciani’s sexual abuse involved developing personal relationships with victims to engender trust, and prescribing addictive pain medication that caused his patients to become dependent on him as he engaged in a course of increasingly abusive conduct.  The alleged pattern of abuse in this case is outrageous, and Cruciani now faces federal charges for it,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said at the time the charges were filed.

Federal prosecutors alleged he abused “numerous adult female patients” who suffered from chronic and severe pain and used his position as a trusted doctor to sexual abuse them, even withholding or refusing to prescribe pain medication if the women did not do what he wanted.

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