A former Manhattan neurologist who was convicted late last month of sexually abusing his patients committed suicide inside a New York City jail this week. New York City Police Department sources informed PEOPLE that 68-year-old Dr. Ricardo Cruciani was found dead at about 6 a.m. Monday in the shower area of the Eric M. Taylor Center on Rikers Island.
The sources confirm that Cruciani hung himself.
Doctor Convicted of Sexually Abusing Patients Commits Suicide, Dies In Jail
The doctor’s attorney, Frederick Sosinsky, confirmed the death, adding that he had requested Cruciani be placed in protective custody and under suicide watch when he was convicted on July 29.
“Neither of these conditions were, to our knowledge, ever complied with,” Sosinsky said in a statement. “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.”
After a month-long trial, the doctor was found guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes on July 29.
Prosecutors had said he purposely got his patients addicted to powerful pain medications and later threatened to withhold their prescriptions unless they performed certain sexual acts. The doctor was set to be sentenced on Sept. 14. He had faced a possible life sentence.
The doctor was also facing federal charges in an indictment that accused him of abusing multiple patients for more than 15 years at his offices in New York City, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The disgraced doctor once chaired the neurology department at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
In 2017, Cruciani surrendered his medical license as part of a plea deal in a separate case.
Six women he had treated in 2012 at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City — which is now known as Mount Sinai Beth Israel — accused Cruciani of developing personal relationships with them, and using his psychiatric training to ask personal questions.
The victims all said he would initiate physical contact with them by stroking their hair.
He also complimented their appearances and gave them uncomfortably tight hugs, prosecutors said at trial.
Terrie Phoenix, one of the victims who testified against Cruciani during his criminal trial, told The Washington Post: “I take comfort knowing he now faces another judge.”
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