A doctor convicted of sexual abuse of patients hanged himself at Rikers Island Prison in the early hours of August 15, reports New York Daily News.
Ricardo Cruciani, 67, was found guilty on four counts of sexual assault in July after six of his former patients testified against him.
The victims, including a disabled woman, said in court that Cruciani threatened to kill himself if either of them revealed his crimes.
“Evil in a white coat,” prosecutor Shannon Lucy described him.
Cruciani was taken into custody on 29 July. The judge set aside $1 million bail when he was found guilty. Early on the morning of August 15, he entered the communal shower room at Rikers Island Prison, stood on a chair, and hung himself with a piece of cloth.
Two sources said that the department where Cruciani was located did not have a floor attendant.
Lack of staff in prisons
In May, the Correctional Board released a report on New York's prisons. It says that staffing shortages led to the deaths of three prisoners earlier this year. Among them is German Diaz, who choked on an orange in the absence of a floor attendant.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Luis Molina has said on numerous occasions that staffing problems have subsided.
Convicted of sex crimes, Cruciani could have been placed in custody or in a psychiatric ward, given the threats of suicide if anyone noticed her. But it seems that he was serving his sentence on general terms without additional supervision.
The Department of Corrections confirmed Kuciani's death, but without giving the name or cause of death, simply noting that a prisoner had died in Rikers Island. They said the man died around 6:30 am. An investigation is currently underway.
Department of Corrections officials said it was the 12th death of an inmate in the New York prison system this year. And in 2021, there were 16 in total. This death rate is unprecedented in the modern age of prisons.
“This is more than outrageous. The City Council must end solitary confinement immediately. And the mayor, governor, judges, district attorneys, as well as state legislators, must do everything within their power to release people and stop sending them to these deadly prisons,” said Anisa Sabur, #HALTsolitary campaign activist and former Rikers Island inmate.
What did Cruciani do
The prosecution alleged that Cruciani, a neurologist, used his psychiatric training to manipulate his victims, drugging them with large doses of painkillers, raping and molesting them by forcing them to watch him masturbate.
The charges were filed in 2013. According to the authorities, he committed these crimes not only in New York hospitals, but also in medical institutions in other regions. During his 35-year career as a physician, Cruciani worked in several states and was chair of the neurology department at Drexel University in Philadelphia.