AP

Accusers call suicide of convicted neurologist ‘selfish act’

Sep 14, 2022, 4:45 PM | Updated: 4:59 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Six women who testified against a neurologist they accused of sexaully assaulting them while they were his patients returned to court on Wednesday to speak out against him, this time under unusual circumstances they described as a cruel twist of fate.

Authorities say Dr. Ricardo Cruciani killed himself behind bars shortly after his conviction and before the accusers could give victim impact statements at a sentencing that was likely to result in a lengthy prison term. A judge invited the women on Wednesday to give their statements anyway at a New York City hearing where they called Cruciani a predator and a coward.

“I’m really struggling with the fact that Cruciani will never go to prison. … or ever be punished,” said one woman who wanted her name withheld. “He took away my chance to face him as a convicted felon.”

The doctor, she added, “turned me into a drug addict and sexually assaulted me for years.”

Cruciani, 68, was convicted in July of multiple criminal counts, including predatory sexual assault, rape and attempted rape. He had denied abusing patients while working for several leading pain-management providers during his career.

Prosecutors won a conviction by presenting evidence that Cruciani groomed vulnerable patients by overprescribing pain killers, sometimes to treat serious injuries from car wrecks and other accidents. His accusers testified the sexual abuse often occurred behind closed doors during appointments in 2013 at a Manhattan medical center, where the doctor would expose himself and demand sex.

Cruciani was found unresponsive last August in a shower area at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a jail at New York’s notorious Rikers Island complex. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging.

Accuser Hillary Tullin told reporters outside court on Wednesday that she felt the death had robbed her of a chance to tell the doctor off face to face.

“I wouldn’t have minced words,” Tullin said. “I would have unloaded about the 12 years of abuse I suffered at this hands.”

Another victim, Terrie Phoenix, called Cruciani’s suicide “a selfish act” that destroyed her faith in the medical profession.

“I do not trust myself to stay clear of predators,” Phoenix said. “This case proves they can be everywhere.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are survivors of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Tullin and Phoenix have done.

The accusers also pleaded with the judge to reject a defense request to throw out the doctor’s conviction based on a legal provision known as “abatement by death.”

Defense attorney Fred Sosinsky made brief arguments supporting the request without responding to the victim statements. Sosinsky had argued at trial that the testimony of the women was unreliable and that they were even willing to lie to back up their accounts.

The judge said she would rule later on whether to preserve the conviction.

Before his death, Cruciani also was scheduled to go on trial next January on federal charges involving accusations that he abused multiple patients over 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, New Jersey.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

2 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

2 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

5 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

8 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

19 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Accusers call suicide of convicted neurologist ‘selfish act’