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Disgraced ex-Drexel neurologist charged in New York with raping patient

Ricardo Cruciani re-arrested in New York months after pleading guilty to sexually abusing patients in Philadelphia.
Ricardo Cruciani, seen leaving court in Philadelphia after pleading guilty to sexually abusing seven patients with no jail-time, is now facing rape charges in Manhattan related to another patient. (Sam Newhouse)

Some sexual assault victim-advocates fumed after disgraced former neurologist Ricardo Cruciani got no jail time despite pleading guilty in Philadelphia to sexually abusing seven female patients. He got probation and was allowed that day to leave the country and fly to South America for his daughter's wedding.

But three months after the Nov. 21 hearing where Cruciani, 63, took a plea deal from Philly prosecutors, he was re-arrested in Manhattan on a slew of new charges, including first-degree rape, the NYPD has confirmed.

Cruciani was re-arrested in New York City on Feb. 20 at the 25th Precinct and charged in relation to a Nov. 17 complaint filed by one of his former patients at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, where he worked until 2014.

The victim, a 45-year-old woman who has identified herself to media as Hillary Tullin, told authorities that "from 2005 to 2012, her doctor sexually assaulted her on multiple occasion," an NYPD spokeswoman said.

As of Wednesday morning, Cruciani was scheduled to be arraigned on criminal charges in Manhattan Supreme Court that afternoon.

According to the NYPD, he is expected to face two charges of rape in the first degree, seven charges of criminal sexual acts in the third degree, three charges of sexual abuse, and one aggravated sexual abuse charge.

As part of his guilty plea in Philadelphia to misdemeanor indecent assault charges, Cruciani agreed to seven years' registration as a sex offender, 15 years on the Megan's Law registry, to relinquish his medical license permanently and never practice medicine again.

Cruciani is also facing pending civil litigation after at least 17 female patients came forward saying that while working as their doctor at Beth Israel New York City, Capital Institute for Neurosciences' Center for Pain Management in New Jersey and as chair of Drexel University Hospital's Neurology Department in Philadelphia, Cruciani forced or compelled them to perform sex acts, typically in the examination room, during their appointments.

Several of Cruciani's victims acknowledged continuing to see the doctor for years despite the sexual abuse, with allegations ranged from forcible kissing and touching to groping, masturbating in front of them, oral sex and sexual intercourse.

But many of the patients had complex disorders they felt only Cruciani, an expert in the field, could treat, said attorney Jeff Fritz, who is representing several victims in pending legal action against Cruciani and the hospitals where he worked.

“There was nothing consensual about it,” Tullin, a former news producer for CBS, told the Associated Press in a previous interview after Cruciani was charged in Philadelphia. “When you’re being held in a locked office with someone for three hours, and you know that that person holds your health in his hands, you make a decision. And my decision was that I wanted to be able to walk again.”

Cruciani also allegedly punished some victims who resisted his advances by withholding refills of pain medicine and other prescription drugs.

"Some of these women had been to more than a dozen pain management specialists or doctors for help to get relief from pain," Fritz told Metro. "He comes along, he’s helpful to them, and the only way that they’re going to continue to get care and treatment is by succumbing to what he’s asking for and doing to them."

Cruciani worked until 2014 at Beth Israel Medical Center, which was absorbed into Mount Sinai Medical System in 2016. "We are deeply disturbed to learn about these charges and have been working closely with the investigation being led by the District Attorney's office," a Mt. Sinai spokeswoman said via email. Capital Health, where he worked from 2014 to 2015, has said no complaints were received about Cruciani. Drexel, where he worked from 2016 to 2017, said his background check during the hiring process “did not reveal any improper or illegal conduct."

Drexel fired Cruciani in March 2017 and reported him to authorities after a patient came forward with complaints about his conduct.