Philadelphia neurologist admits groping patients, gets probation

By Gabriela Milian, CNN

(CNN) -- A Philadelphia neurologist pleaded guilty this week to seven counts of sexual misconduct with patients and was sentenced to seven years probation.

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, 63, the former chairman of Drexel University's Neurology Department, must also register as a Tier 1 sex offender and can no longer practice medicine, a judge ruled Tuesday in Philadelphia County Municipal Court.

He was fired in March after the university investigated allegations from seven patients that he had groped them. There also was a criminal investigation.

In a plea deal, Cruciani pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of indecent assault and harassment.

"The victims are not happy that he's not receiving one day of jail time," said Jeffrey Fritz, an attorney representing some of Cruciani's victims. "But they are happy that he can't victimize any further patients."

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Fritz is representing at least a dozen women in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York who have accused Cruciani of similar crimes in the last 12 years.

Criminal investigations are still under way in New York and New Jersey.

Sara Hicks, 31, was Cruciani's patient while he was a doctor at Capital Health Medical Center in New Jersey, and followed him to Philadelphia so he could continue to treat her chronic migraines and stomach pains. Hicks said the doctor touched her inappropriately.

"My anxiety has become an everyday event that is now coupled with panic attacks," Hicks said in court Tuesday. "When I am around men I get tense and feel like my guard is always up, which is exhausting."

Hicks said the first time Cruciani was inappropriate with her was in December 2015, when she was pregnant and he inappropriately touched her chest. Hicks said she was having issues with health providers in New Jersey in treating her pain, and felt that Cruciani, knowing her health struggles, took advantage of her vulnerability.

Hicks said she felt that as long as she took someone else with her to appointments, the touching would stop, but Cruciani continued to be inappropriate even with her sister in the room, she told CNN.

"He fully accepts responsibility and apologizes for all the pain that he has caused," Cruciani's attorney, Linda Dale Hoffa, said in a statement.


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