As a professional in any field, it’s very important for one to understand how to wield power and what it means when you do so. It’s not necessary an issue of how one manages their clients and tasks but to what means they achieve with such power.
Power in itself is neither good nor bad as it is the wielder that determines if power is used to serve or to undermine. If used effectively, the use of power will gain respect and achieve results. If used improperly, the misuse of power can hamstring and lead to stagnation.
As you’d expect, not everyone is willing to take up a professional stance while handling such matters. A great example is a prominent neurologist who’s already charged with groping patients at a Philadelphia clinic. Moreover, he’s now facing a growing number of accusations that he preyed on especially vulnerable pain patients at medical facilities in three states, using his impressive reputation as a healer to trap women in long-term doctor-patient relationships that were filed with abuse.
Approximately 17 women in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey have stepped forward to accuse Dr. Ricardo Cruciani of sexual misconduct that goes back at least a dozen years, either reporting him to police or retaining an attorney to pursue civil claims.
The women who claim to have been sexually abused by Cruciani told the AP that they felt they had no alternative but to continue seeing the Ivy League-trained neurologist, who specializes in rare, complicated syndromes that produce debilitating pain. The women said they viewed Cruciani as their only hope of getting better — and he knew it, taking advantage of their desperation.
As police and prosecutors open a second investigation into Cruciani, some of the accusers and their lawyer want to know how closely the 63-year-old pain doctor was supervised and whether he could have been stopped sooner.
“These hospitals created this perfect storm of opportunity for him to victimize so many patients,” said Hillary Tullin, who saw Cruciani for years and said she was victimized repeatedly. “The system failed.”
An affidavit from Philadelphia police revealed that Cruciani, the former chairman of the neurology department at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, assaulted seven patients in 2016. The women, ages 31 to 55, described unwanted touching and kissing. One patient said Cruciani tried to force her to touch his genitals and then masturbated in front of her.
Fortunately, Drexel fired him in March after an internal investigation. He’s now scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on misdemeanor charges that include indecent assault.
“Given that these are ongoing matters, we cannot comment because it could prejudice the proceedings,” said his lawyer, Linda Dale Hoffa. “We will do our talking in court.”
However, his legal troubles might just be starting. This is after a 55-year-old former patient who says Cruciani sexually abused her for years revealed that police interviewed her in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, where the doctor worked for Capital Health Medical Center from 2014 to 2016. Hopewell police and the Mercer County prosecutor’s office confirmed that Cruciani is under investigation.
Cruciani boasted an impressive resume: fellow at the National Institutes of Health, a doctorate degree in pharmacology, respected academic and researcher published more than 150 times and featured at more than 130 medical conferences.
One of the victims, identified as Tullin, began seeing Cruciani in 2002 at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. For two years, she had suffered chronic pain that made it feel like her body was on fire.
The neurologist diagnosed her with complex regional pain syndrome, a progressive disorder believed to originate in the nervous system, and came up with a strategy to relieve her symptoms. She saw him regularly for three years without incident.
At an appointment in 2005, the neurologist grabbed her face and jammed his tongue down her throat, said Tullin, who recalled uttering an expletive and fleeing.
After a couple of weeks, she eventually returned, feeling she had no choice because Cruciani was one of the very few doctors who could treat her.
“You have nowhere else to go, and you know that and he knows that,” said Tullin, 45.
In the next appointment, Tullin said, Cruciani apologized. But she recalled at least a dozen later instances of escalating abuse while she was his patient at Beth Israel, Capital and Drexel. Tullin said that Cruciani touched her breasts and genitals and that she performed oral sex on him at his request and he performed it on her.
“There was nothing consensual about it,” Tullin said. “When you’re being held in a locked office with someone for three hours, and you know that that person holds your health in his hands, you make a decision. And my decision was that I wanted to be able to walk again, I wanted to be able to use my arms and legs.”
Another 55-year-old woman making accusations against Cruciani revealed that she was subjected to sexual predations during long appointments. She said he put his fingers in her vagina and asked her for oral sex, which she said she felt obliged to provide.
The third accuser, a 40-year-old New York City woman with chronic pancreatitis, told the AP that Cruciani subjected her to unwanted touching over her clothes and kissed her on the mouth at one of their first consultations at Beth Israel.