In 2017, Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, a neurologist, faced a total of 30 criminal counts after admitting to sexually abusing multiple women after prescribing them obscene dosages of opioids and pain medications. More than 17 women in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania accuse him of sexual misconduct.
According to news reports, Dr. Cruciani was finally charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania. Cruciani pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting seven patients while he was chairman of Drexel University’s neurology department. He reached a plea deal and was sentenced to seven years of probation, had his medical license revoked, and was forced to register as a sex offender. Although he still faced criminal charges in New York and New Jersey, Cruciani was released from custody on $1 million bail.
In October 2021, a new lawsuit was filed in New Jersey and civil suits in New York and Pennsylvania by the seven former patients of Cruciani. The new suit seeks liability from the former doctor and the hospitals and institutions that employed him over his 35-year tenure. These include Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, Drexel University in Pennsylvania, and Capital Health System in New Jersey.
The suits claim hospital administrators and staff members ignored multiple reports that Cruciani addicted vulnerable women to pain medications they didn’t need and sexually abused his patients. The suit claims that these institutions looked the other way and allowed Cruciani to quietly change jobs — never warning other hospitals, state authorities, or the police about the allegations. This negligence enabled Cruciani to continue his predatory behavior and add more victims to his list.
Each of thes victims suffered from severe pain due to various medical conditions and sought help from Dr. Cruciani due to his pristine reputation for pain management. They all claim that he was charming, personable, and seemed to really care.
He prescribed potent opioids, increasing dosages monthly, and added medications, so the patient was “doped up” and addicted. They say he used his prescription pad to manipulate women in pain, pave the way to addiction and exploit their dependency for sex. Mr. Cruciani never had a chaperone in the room when he saw female patients. He also resisted their requests to have a nurse or companion present and even locked the door while in treatment.
One of the victims, Tanisha Johnson, stated that she became dependent on the drugs and that Cruciani became more aggressive during each visit. She claimed he groped her, masturbated in front of her, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. When she resisted, he withheld refills of her prescriptions, leaving her in withdrawal. Ms. Johnson said she was prescribed a concoction of more than 1,300 pain pills a month at one point.
Complaints from multiple patients mounted, but Cruciani managed to transfer from job to job, securing positions at hospitals in three states over the course of a decade. Johnson’s husband stated in an interview that he called the patient advocate’s office at Capital Health and described the assaults but never got a response.
A statement issued by Drexel University said that Mr. Cruciani was terminated in March 2017 after complaints from patients prompted an internal investigation that substantiated their claims. The statement said that the university notified licensing authorities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and cooperated with police investigations.
However, Drexel officials pointed the finger at the other hospitals for failing to take action or to warn them. “Drexel hired Cruciani after conducting a thorough background check, as is done with all potential employees, that did not reveal any improper or illegal conduct. Mr. Cruciani had practiced medicine for more than 35 years at several other hospitals. None of these hospitals ever notified Drexel about Cruciani’s conduct.” the statement said.
This case illustrates failures that permeate oversight of the medical profession, in which physicians wield enormous power within hospitals, misconduct is underreported, and institutional employers have zero accountability.
Finding the right medical provider can be challenging. We seek out seasoned professionals who possess a good bedside manner, compassion, and empathy. When we do finally decide on one, we hope to feel better over time, not be violated by the very person with whom we place our trust. Doctors hold a position of power in the physician-patient relationship. It is both unacceptable and unlawful for a healthcare professional to touch a patient in any sexual manner or practice any sexual misconduct while treating the patient.
Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against medical professionals on behalf of patients who were inappropriately touched in their care. Under no circumstances is a doctor or nurse permitted to have sexual contact with a patient. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery at a medical office or facility, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.