A doctor who sexually assaulted patients committed suicide in jail

NEW YORK (AP) — A once-prominent neurologist convicted last month of sexually abusing patients killed himself Monday in a New York City jail, two people familiar with the matter said.

Dr. Ricardo Crociani, 68, was found unresponsive in a shower area at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a prison at the notorious Rikers Island complex, the people said. He was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

Crociani’s attorney, Frederick Sosinski, confirmed in a statement that his client had died, but not the manner of death.

“Ricardo’s attorneys and family are shocked and saddened to learn of his violent death in city custody this morning,” he said.

Sosinski called for an “immediate and objective investigation” into the circumstances of Cruciani’s death, including whether prison officials had, at the time of his sentencing, placed him in protective custody and under suicide watch. The court order was complied with.

“To our knowledge, none of these conditions have been complied with,” Sosinski said. “If they were, we wouldn’t be having this awful debate.”

Crociani died the following month while awaiting sentencing in a New York state trial in which he was convicted on 12 counts, including predatory sexual assault, rape and sexual assault, and acquitted of two other counts. . He faced life imprisonment.

He was also scheduled to go on trial next January on federal charges accusing him of abusing patients over 15 years at his offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Hopewell, New Jersey.

Prosecutors said Crociani groomed vulnerable patients by overprescribing painkillers, sometimes to treat serious injuries from car wrecks and other accidents.

Six women testified that the sexual assault often took place behind closed doors during appointments at a Manhattan medical center in 2013, where the doctor would expose himself and demand sex.

“I’m relieved to know that he now faces another judge,” said Terri Phoenix, one of the six women who stood trial against Crociani.

The AP typically does not identify people who say they have survived sexual assault unless they give permission, which Phoenix did.

Crociani denies abusing women. In court, his lawyer questioned the credibility of his accusers.

The fire department said it responded to a call about an unconscious inmate at the jail around 5:50 a.m. Paramedics attempted to revive the inmate but were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. declared, the fire department said.

The city Department of Corrections, which runs Rikers Island, confirmed that an inmate at the Eric M. Taylor Center died Monday, but did not release his name, citing pending family notification. The Department of Corrections said the cause of death is under investigation.

Prisons Commissioner Luis Molina said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the inmate’s death, and promised “an initial internal review to determine the circumstances surrounding his death.” will be taken.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones,” Molina said.

Crociani is at least the 11th person to die in a city jail this year. Last year, 16 people died in the city’s jails, the most since 2013.

The Daily News first reported Crociani’s death.

Messages were left for comment with attorneys for the women who say they were abused. A message was also left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case that culminated in his conviction on July 29.

Cruciani remained on bail during the trial but was sent to Rikers Island after the verdict.

The complex, troubled by years of neglect, has been in turmoil since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with inmate deaths, violence, self-harm and staff absenteeism on the rise. The city has said it will close Rikers Island by 2027, replacing it with four smaller prisons located elsewhere.

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Rubincum reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. __

On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Michael Rubinkam at twitter.com/michaelrubinkam

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