Prominent neurologist Dr. Ricardo Cruciani has been sentenced to seven years probation for serial sexual assault against over a dozen of his female patients. While Cruciani will no longer be able to practice medicine and must register as a sex offender, his victims have blasted his sentence as too lenient.
On Nov. 21, Cruciani pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and harassing seven of his patients. Cruciani admitted to groping and committing other lewd acts against the plaintiffs between Jan. 1 and Aug. 21, 2016.
The 63-year-old Cruciani is the former chairman of Drexel University's Neurology Department and was considered a last-resort doctor for patients with debilitating mental disorders. At least 17 women have accused the neurologist of sexually assaulting them while he practiced in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, The Associated Press reports. He was sentenced in a Philadelphia courtroom.
Cruciani specialized in alleviating chronic pain. Several of his patients had relied on his expertise in order to function.
"This wasn't some drunk frat boy," said one of Cruciani's victims, who took to the stand after he pleaded guilty. "This was a well-respected doctor."
The victim added that her experience with Cruciani prompted her to feel anxiety and apprehension around men, which she characterized as "exhausting."
"I believed in him," said another victim in the courtroom, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I can't understand why he would do this. He needs help. He's a monster."
Judge Gerard A. Kosinski announced a sentence that had been mutually agreed upon by Cruciani's legal team and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Cruciani was sentenced to seven years probation. He will register as a Tier I sex offender and forfeit his medical license during his probation.
"You've been sentenced to 84 months of reporting probation," Kosinski told Cruciani in court. "You've sentenced your victims to a life of pain."
Cruciani's attorney, Linda Dale Hoffa, asserted that her client would "comply with all court mandates, abandon his academic career and the medical profession entirely, and do whatever is in his power to begin the healing process ... He fully accepts responsibility and apologizes for all the pain he has caused."
Jeffrey Fritz, who represented several of the plaintiffs, said that his clients were not satisfied with Cruciani's sentencing.
"The victims are not happy that he's not receiving one day of jail time," Fritz told CNN. "But they are happy that he can't victimize any further patients."
Other women who have accused Cruciani of sexual assault plan to mount civil lawsuits against him in New Jersey and New York.