A pain-management doctor who brokered a no-jail plea deal with Pennsylvania prosecutors has now been indicted by the feds for allegedly luring patients across state lines to sexually abuse them—using his prescription pad as leverage.
Ricardo Cruciani pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of sexually predatory behavior in Philadelphia Municipal Court 2017 and was sentenced to seven years’ probation, to the dismay of his victims.
“I’m truly sorry if I caused anyone harm or pain,” he said at the time.
The 67-year-old neurologist was subsequently charged by state prosecutors in New York and New Jersey. Those cases are still pending.
But on Wednesday, an indictment was unsealed in federal court in Manhattan charging him with five counts of enticement and inducement to travel to engage in unlawful sexual activity.
“I have longed for the day he would be held accountable for these heinous crimes,” one of his accusers, Hillary Tullin, said in a statement. “It has been nearly four years since state charges were brought against him, yet there is no trial date in sight. It has been a living hell.”
Cruciani was arrested in Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning and is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday morning. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But according to the indictment, over the course of 15 years—while he was a doctor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and then at Drexel University—Cruciani allegedly molested female patients after he got them hooked on pain pills.
“Cruciani sexually abused the victims through a process that typically entailed prescribing pain medication and developing a relationship with the victims, which caused the victims to rely on and trust Cruciani as he engaged in a course of increasingly abusive conduct,” the indictment alleges.
Prosecutors said Cruciani pretended to comfort the victims by “caressing their hair, rubbing their backs, hugging them, and kissing them,” but the behavior escalated to groping their breasts, unnecessary vaginal exams, and masturbation, among other sex acts.
“Cruciani exploited and leveraged his position of trust as a healthcare provider, the significant pain suffered by the victims, and his ability to prescribe for or withhold pain medication, including highly-addictive opioids, from the victims, so that he could sexually abuse them,” the indictment charges.
If patients rebuffed him, Cruciani would retaliate by referring them to another doctor who would not prescribe as much pain medication as he normally did, the feds allege.
At his plea hearing in 2017, one victim called him a “monster” who preyed on the vulnerable.
“What you did was take a part of my soul, and you took it to a dark spot,” she testified. “I no longer trust anyone.”
Another woman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she tried to kill herself because of the abuse and was not satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“I’m disappointed that he’s not going to spend one day in jail,” she said.
That could change now. Federal prosecutors say that as Cruciani moved his medical practice from Manhattan and New Jersey to Pennsylvania, he had his patients travel to see him.
The allegation that he lured them across state lines gave them an opening to charge him in federal court with crimes that carry up to 20 years in prison.