Ricardo Cruciani, Who Sexually Assaulted Patients, Found Dead at Rikers


A health care provider found guilty last month of sexually assaulting patients was discovered useless on the Rikers Island jail complicated Monday regardless that his lawyer had known as for him to be placed on suicide watch simply minutes after he was convicted.

The physician, Ricardo Cruciani, a 68-year-old neurologist, was discovered early Monday morning sitting in a bathe space of the jail with a sheet round his neck, based on paperwork obtained by The New York Times. Shortly afterward, medical employees arrived to take care of him. He died about an hour after he was found, the paperwork present.

Mr. Cruciani is the twelfth particular person to have died this yr both whereas being held within the metropolis’s jails or shortly after being launched. His demise took place two weeks after a jury discovered him responsible on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and different crimes, stemming from his remedy of six sufferers that he noticed round 2012.

In a press release, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, Louis A. Molina, mentioned he was “deeply saddened to study of the passing of this particular person in custody.”

“We will conduct a preliminary inner overview to find out the circumstances surrounding his demise,” he mentioned within the assertion, which didn’t establish Mr. Cruciani. “Our ideas and prayers exit to his family members.”

The Department of Correction didn’t instantly reply to questions on the circumstances surrounding the demise or whether or not Mr. Cruciani had been positioned on suicide watch, as his lawyer and the decide presiding over his trial had requested.

“Ricardo’s attorneys and household are shocked and saddened past perception to have discovered of his violent demise whereas in metropolis custody this morning,” Mr. Cruciani’s lawyer, Frederick Sosinsky, mentioned in a press release.

Mr. Sosinsky mentioned that after his request within the courtroom, the decide had directed the Department of Correction to position Mr. Cruciani in protecting custody and beneath suicide watch, throughout which he would have been supervised across the clock, even whereas utilizing the toilet.

“Neither of those circumstances have been, to our data, ever complied with,” Mr. Sosinky mentioned. He known as for an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Cruciani’s demise, together with why the Department of Correction didn’t observe the courtroom’s orders.

Mr. Cruciani was being held in a basic inhabitants dormitory of the Eric M. Taylor Center that was understaffed, based on an official accustomed to occasions who was granted anonymity to talk on the matter with out authorization.

A second official mentioned that Mr. Cruciani had entered the bathe space at 4:23 a.m. and was discovered unresponsive at 5:35 a.m. by the officer overseeing the housing space. Officers are anticipated to tour the world each half-hour, however it’s unclear whether or not that occurred, the official mentioned.

Mr. Cruciani’s demise raises questions on why he was not beneath heightened supervision and attracts new consideration to issues on the Eric M. Taylor Center, which has turn out to be more and more chaotic because it grew to become a facility for processing new detainees final September, based on jail employees and advocates for prisoners.

Mr. Cruciani was scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14, and will have been going through life in jail. He additionally confronted federal expenses in Manhattan and state expenses for comparable habits in New Jersey.

During his trial in New York State Supreme Court, prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Cruciani, who as soon as had a repute as a congenial and good doctor with a selected present for treating continual ache, had engaged in a sample of untoward habits with a number of girls he handled.

At first, Mr. Cruciani would embrace his sufferers too tightly, or run his fingers by means of their hair, the prosecutors mentioned. Eventually, his habits would escalate and he would grope the ladies with out permission, and power them to have intercourse or carry out different intercourse acts. In lawsuits, some girls accused him of getting overprescribed ache medicine that left them depending on him.

Hillary Tullin, a former affected person of Mr. Cruciani who mentioned that he had assaulted her a number of instances, mentioned in an interview Monday that whereas she felt sorry for his youngsters, she additionally felt “for all of the victims who won’t ever get an opportunity to confront him.”

“It lastly dawned on him there was no manner out,” she mentioned. “The jurors believed what we mentioned. It was actual. He was going to jail for all times.”

One of his different former sufferers, Terrie Phoenix, mentioned: “I take consolation figuring out he now faces one other decide.”

Mr. Cruciani was first arrested in Pennsylvania in 2017, however after pleading responsible in a take care of Philadelphia prosecutors that required him to give up his medical license, he was capable of keep away from jail time. The following yr, he was criminally charged in Manhattan. His trial was delayed due to the pandemic, however started in late June of this yr. After his conviction in July, he was despatched to Rikers Island to await sentencing.

The jail complicated, which is ready to shut by 2027, has been troubled for many years, however the coronavirus pandemic has worsened issues, as a whole bunch of correction officers have failed to indicate up for work. The lack of staffing has contributed to a cascade of points, together with the fundamental processing of recent arrivals.

In the late summer of 2021, incarcerated folks have been held for weeks in consumption cells, together with in bathe areas. After visiting the jail complicated, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned that one among his high priorities was speeding up the intake process. But that course of seems to have slowed once more — and a 3rd of those that have died at metropolis jails this yr have been being held on the Eric M. Taylor Center.

William Okay. Rashbaum, Roni Caryn Rabin and Troy Closson contributed reporting.

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