On Monday morning, the well-known neurologist and convicted rapist Ricardo Cruciani, 68, was allegedly found hanged in a shower at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
According to the New York Times, Cruciani entered the shower area of the Eric M. Taylor Center dormitory around 4:23 a.m. The officer overseeing the area found him an hour later (i.e. at 5:35 a.m.), sitting unresponsive with a sheet around his neck.
Despite efforts by paramedics to resuscitate him, Cruciani died at the scene around 6:30 a.m.
Officers are expected to check in on the area every thirty minutes, though it is unclear whether protocol was followed in this instance, the New York Times noted.
The Eric M. Taylor Center has a reputation for being understaffed. The New York Post reported in June that not only have at least three people died while in the facility’s custody, but “new admissions aren’t body-scanned for drugs, weapons or other contraband upon arrival.”
The Board of Correction released a report in May, which criticized the Department of Correction’s “failure to provide minimally adequate coverage and supervision within housing areas in the city’s jails.”
Cruciani is the twelfth person to die inside New York City’s jails or within a short period of being released, as was the case with Antonio Bradley, who similarly died by hanging.
Cruciani’s attorney, Frederick Sosinsky, has called for an investigation into the convicted rapist’s death and whether jail officials complied with a court order to place Cruciani under suicide watch.
Prosecutors alleged during his trial that Cruciani threatened to kill himself in the event that any of his patients spoke out about his crimes.
On July 29, a New York State Supreme Court jury found him guilty of 12 criminal counts of sexual abuse. He was convicted of predatory sexual assault, sex abuse, criminal sexual acts, rape, and attempted rape.
It was revealed in court that Cruciani controlled and groomed six of his patients at Beth Israel Medical Center, as well as in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, by giving them an excess of high dose pain medications. After getting his victims hooked on the medications, he then held the drugs ransom in exchange for compliance to his various demands.
On the day of Cruciani’s conviction, District Attorney Alvin Bragg noted that the neurologist’s victims were left with “opioid addictions, sexual trauma,” and a lack of “proper medical care for their extremely rare and painful diseases.”
Cruciani faced sentencing on September 14 and was scheduled to stand trial in January 2023 on federal charges accusing him of abusing numerous other patients in and beyond New York.
One of the women who testified against Cruciani, Terrie Phoenix, said she takes comfort in knowing “he now faces another judge.”
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