Pain Doctor Who Sexually Assaulted Patients Found Dead at Rikers

Ricardo Cruciani, a doctor found guilty last month of having sexually assaulted several of his patients, was found dead of a suspected suicide at the Rikers Island jail complex Monday morning.

Mr. Cruciani, a 68-year-old neurologist who treated chronic pain, was found early Monday morning sitting in the shower area of the jail with a sheet around his neck, according to jail documents obtained by The New York Times. Shortly afterward, medical staff arrived to attend to him. He died about an hour after he was discovered, the documents show.

His death came about two weeks after a jury found him guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes, stemming from his treatment of six patients that he saw around 2012.

Mr. Cruciani was being held in a dormitory general population area of the Eric M. Taylor Center that was understaffed, according to an official familiar with what happened who was granted anonymity to speak on the matter without authorization.

A second official said that Mr. Cruciani had entered the shower area at 4:23 a.m. and was found unresponsive at 5:35 a.m. by the officer overseeing the housing area. Officers are expected to tour the area every 30 minutes, but it is unclear whether that happened, the official said.

The Eric M. Taylor Center has become increasingly chaotic since it became a facility where new jail admissions are processed, staff and advocates for detainees have said. Detainees at the center have complained of overcrowding in its cells and delayed access to medical care and medication, or none at all.

In a statement, the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Correction, Louis A. Molina, said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of this person in custody.”

“We will conduct a preliminary internal review to determine the circumstances surrounding his death,” he said in the statement, which did not identify Mr. Cruciani. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

Mr. Cruciani’s lawyer, Elizabeth Edwards Macedonio, said she had just learned of his death and declined to provide comment when reached by phone on Monday morning. Mr. Cruciani’s trial lawyer, who had planned to appeal the verdict, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Cruciani is the 12th person to have died this year either while being held in the city’s jails or shortly after being released.

William K. Rashbaum and Troy Closson contributed reporting.

Back to top button