Tag: New Jersey sex abuse

Joseph Centanni Horowitz Law

Joseph Centanni, A NJ Landlord, Facing Sex Abuse Claim and Lawsuits From Tenants

In July 2021, Joseph Centanni, the owner, and landlord of hundreds of rental units across 18 properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was arrested for the second time after seven more tenants came forward alleging sexual assault by Centanni, bringing the total number of alleged victims to 20 since 2016. In total, Centanni was charged with eight counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree attempted sexual assault, and 14 counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. 

According to recent news reports, as of October 2021, Centanni has settled seven out of eight civil lawsuits, with one remaining open. No details have been released as to what the settlements entail.

The Union County Prosecutor’s office filed 35 criminal charges, claiming he sexually assaulted or harassed 20 different victims who were his tenants over the years. According to other media reports, Centanni allegedly described the sex acts he solicited from his victims as a quid pro quo, agreeing to offer them rent reductions, delays in eviction, or other forms of financial assistance in exchange for sexual favors. 

Prosecutors state that Centanni used his “position of power and privilege to prey on the vulnerabilities and desperations of others.” The criminal complaints filed against him detail how the landlord allegedly coerced vulnerable tenants, prospective tenants, single mothers, a homeless man, and soon-to-be evicted tenants — into performing sexual favors in exchange for free housing or financial relief.

According to one lawsuit, a former tenant claims that Centanni allegedly forced her to perform non-consensual oral sex on Centanni whenever she was late or short on her rent to not face eviction.

In another lawsuit, a man states that Centanni offered to clear his owed rent “by demanding sexual favors, as a quid pro quo” when he was late paying his rent in 2019. The victim also claimed that Centanni made sexual advances again when he fell on hard times during the coronavirus pandemic but ultimately refused Centanni’s alleged demands.

Authorities said that each of the victims reported feeling as though they had no choice but to concede to Centanni’s demands, citing desperate personal circumstances such as trying to maintain housing for their young children. The lawsuits claim that the victims would meet Centanni in his office on the 200 block of West Jersey Street in downtown Elizabeth and that the sex acts took place in laundry rooms, storage areas, or boiler rooms at his properties. One victim claims she was assaulted in a sample apartment unit meant shown to prospective renters.

The Department of Justice has also filed a lawsuit against Centanni alleging he violated the Fair Housing Act for sexually harassing tenants and prospective renters for more than a decade. The lawsuit is on pause as the criminal charges play out.

In the eighth lawsuit against Centanni, which remains open, a woman alleges that when she asked Centanni if she could rent an apartment in one of his buildings, he responded, “What are you going to do for me?”

Although Centanni settled seven of the suits, he still denies all allegations made against him.

We’ve all seen stories about selfish profiteers who exploit desperate renters by seeking sex in exchange for payment leniency, even during the pandemic. Trying to sexually exploit the vulnerable, at any time under any circumstances, is of course despicable. But doing so during a financial crisis is even worse. If you or someone you knows has suffered or is suffering this kind of bald-faced intimidation, exploitation or abuse, 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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Ricardo Cruciani Horowitz Law

Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Former Neurologist Dr. Ricardo Cruciani and Hospitals that Employed Him

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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

ANOTHER ABUSIVE MASSAGE THERAPIST IN NEW JERSEY PERMANENTLY BARRED FROM PRACTICING

ANOTHER ABUSIVE MASSAGE THERAPIST IN NEW JERSEY PERMANENTLY BARRED FROM PRACTICING

massage sexual lawyer

The end of August 2020 brings with it the end of yet another New Jersey massage therapist’s career. As a result of “inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact” with a client, the state Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy permanently revoked the license of the ninth massage therapist since July 2019. 

Earlier this year, John R. Popper, 48, of Little Egg Harbor was convicted of harassment by offensive touching for placing his hand on a client’s vagina during a massage at Hand and Stone spa located at 277 New Road in Somers Point. The client reported the incident immediately after her appointment with Popper in 2017.

He “engaged in professional misconduct and committed a crime of moral turpitude,” said New Jersey state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

The many recent allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by licensees has prompted a review of the 51 professional boards under New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs. Overseeing 720,000 active licensed professionals, from accountants and doctors to plumbers, and massage therapists, the attorney general said, the goal is to ensure boards uniformly adopt best practices and enforce their rules.

“No client or patient should ever have to fear for their personal safety while interacting with a licensed professional in this state,” Grewal said. “By revoking the licenses of massage therapists who prey on their clients, the [state] is carrying out its duty to protect the public.”

In a Final Order filed on Aug. 25, 2020, the Board concluded that Popper’s conduct was “so egregious and morally reprehensible, and so fundamentally at odds with anything that we would expect of a massage therapist that nothing short of permanent revocation would be sufficient to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

The Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy has adopted new rules to help prevent and detect sexual misconduct and abuse in the industry, Grewal said.

Some of those rules include:

  1. Requiring massage therapists to notify the board of criminal, civil, administrative, and employment actions against them
  2. Require massage therapists to report misconduct by others
  3. Protect minors from abuse

Now more than ever, the stresses of life can easily overwhelm us. When patients book a massage, it is to decompress and relax. They trust that the massage therapists employed at the spa are carefully vetted and safe. It is for this reason regulating the practice of massage therapy is necessary. Any violation requires swift action, as it is both unacceptable and unlawful for any employee to touch a patient in a sexual manner. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched at massage parlors and other spas and resorts. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during a massage, 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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Woman sexually assaulted by Uber driver after getting ride home from bar, Police say

Woman sexually assaulted by Uber driver after getting ride home from bar, Police say

On December 10, Uber driver, Gilberto Segura, 52, of Hamilton, was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a woman outside her home. Sugura, who picked up the woman at Cooper’s Riverview bar and nightclub in Trenton the previous Friday night, faces multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated sexual contact. 

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said he sexually assaulted her while out front in his car.  Detectives from Ewing Police and the MCPO Special Victims Unit identified Segura using the woman’s phone and Uber app. Segura had no other reported incidents and had passed an Uber background check. 

A recent report released by Uber, revealed that more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported on the company’s 1.3 billion rides in 2018. Victims were both drivers and riders, including some incidents between riders. In instances of rape, 92% of the reported victims had been riders. 

Uber customers have an expectation of proper vetting of their Uber drivers for qualifications, as well as for safety.  Many Uber passengers are critical that Uber has not employed technology to deter sexual misconduct and ensure that the safety of their passengers.  It is unacceptable that there are employees who take advantage of trusting riders and break the law.

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual assault claims on behalf of clients throughout the country.  An employee of any company is never permitted to have unwanted sexual contact with a customer. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during an Uber or Lyft ride, 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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

New Jersey Law Gives Sexual Abuse Victims More Time To Sue

Beginning December 1, 2019, New Jersey Law Expands Statute of Limitations Allowing Sex Abuse Victims More Time To Sue

The State of New Jersey passed legislation which will empower victims of child sexual abuse to sue their attackers. The new law, which takes effect December 1, 2019, significantly extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims and creates a two-year window for older claims whose statue of limitations had previously expired to be filed. It will now also be easier for survivors to seek damages from the organizations and the institutions that employed abusers and covered up the abuse. 

New Jersey’s old law gave survivors of sexual abuse only two years to sue for damages. A victim of child sexual abuse was allowed to file civil claims within two years after turning age 18, or within two years from the time they become aware of the abuse.  Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that now enables victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers up until they turn 55 years old, or seven years from the date they became aware of the abuse.  But, victims older than 55, will have the two year window beginning December 1, 2019, regardless of their age.

“Survivors of sexual abuse deserve opportunities to seek redress against their abusers,” Murphy said after the signing. “This legislation allows survivors who have faced tremendous trauma the ability to pursue justice through the court system.” 

According to mental health experts and sexual abuse advocates, it often take years for survivors to find the courage to speak about their experience. Many victims are afraid they won’t be believed, or are just too ashamed to talk about the trauma of the abuse.  

States throughout the country have been demanding that current statute of limitations laws involving claims of child sexual abuse be amended. So far, ten other states have passed a similar statute of limitations bill, but the distinction in New Jersey’s law is that the window allows adults who were sexually assaulted to file lawsuits, as well.  For a long time the Catholic Church and insurance companies opposed the bill, fearing a flood of victims suing for cases based on flimsy evidence would make religious groups and nonprofits more vulnerable to financial losses. 

“While we disagreed on specific elements of this legislation, the Catholic community, the Legislature and the governor sincerely agree on one key position — the need to restore justice for the victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey,” the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement. “The Catholic community is confident that the Independent Victims Compensation Program established by the five dioceses in New Jersey is a significant step towards restoring justice for those who, as minors, were abused by ministers of the Church. Further, we are committed to the comprehensive healing of those harmed and we will continue our policies aimed at protecting children from abuse.”

New Jersey Sen. Joseph Vitale has been fighting for the legislation for the past 15 years, and was a primary sponsor of the newly passed bill. Last summer, the Pennsylvania attorney general released a detailed report revealing decades of abuse and coverup by the Catholic Church in New Jersey. Vitale said the report prompted renewed efforts to pass the bill, and that many of his colleagues asked to be co-sponsors.

“It’s a big day.” We always talk about finding justice for all the survivors, not just those in the past but those that will need it in the future.”

The statistics are shocking. Sexual violence affects millions of people. Today in America, every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. Every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. Somehow, only 5 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison. The new legislation passed in New Jersey is a positive step in our nation’s commitment to protect its citizens. Any organization or institution in which sexual abuse is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential employees. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse in New Jersey. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested in New Jersey, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.