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October 07, 2017

Former Drexel University department head facing indecent assault, exposure charges

Courts Drexel University
Stock_Carroll - Drexel University Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Drexel University.

A former department head at Drexel University faces a litany of charges amid accusations that he inappropriately touched several female patients and exposed himself to one.

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani was charged with seven counts each of indecent assault, simple assault and harassment, court documents show. He also faces one count of indecent exposure.

The filings show that the charges stemmed from incidents that allegedly took place between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of last year.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's office filed the charges on Sept. 26.

Cruciani reportedly lives in Philadelphia and was the head of the Department of Neurology at Drexel's College of Medicine. A pain specialist, he worked in one of the school's clinical practices and taught at the school, Philly Mag reported.

In a statement provided to The Triangle, university officials said Cruciani was fired in March following an internal investigation of several complaints from patients.

Citing a police affidavit, Philly Mag detailed the accusations:

The 63-year-old is accused of groping at least five female patients at his practice as well as routinely making other unwanted advances and sexually suggestive statements, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case. One victim claims that Cruciani performed a breast examination on her that she did not request. Another states that he forcibly kissed her and tried to pull her towards him.

A patient who was allegedly fondled by Cruciani later confronted him and told him that she had suffered a breakdown as a result. During that encounter, Cruciani is accused of pulling down his pants and attempting to grab her hand to force her to touch his penis. Then, Cruciani allegedly pleasured himself.

Cruciani's attorney told Philly Mag that her client is wrongly accused and will plead not guilty.

 "Dr. Cruciani has an impressive background as an academic, researcher and medical doctor," she said. "The doctor looks forward to the opportunity to clearing his name in court.”

Drexel's full statement is included below:

Drexel University is aware of the criminal charges that have been filed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office against a neurologist previously employed by Drexel, Dr. Ricardo Cruciani. Cruciani’s employment was terminated in March 2017 after Drexel completed a comprehensive internal investigation of complaints made by several patients about his conduct. Following the completion of the investigation and Cruciani’s termination, Drexel also notified the professional licensing authorities in three states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York) about its internal findings regarding Cruciani’s conduct. And the University assisted patients wanting to report his conduct to the Philadelphia Police’s Special Victims Unit (SVU). Drexel has worked cooperatively with the Philadelphia SVU and the District Attorney’s Office during their investigation.

Patient safety and well-being is a top priority in all of Drexel’s clinical practices. Drexel has provided support and resources to Cruciani’s former patients, including medical and counseling services and assistance with transitioning to new medical care providers.

Drexel is deeply disturbed by the reports that led to the filing of these charges and will continue to assist and cooperate with the investigation being led by the Philadelphia SVU and the District Attorney’s Office. The University continues to take steps to strengthen policies as well as the training and education for faculty and professional staff on the importance of recognizing and reporting concerns or allegations regarding misconduct.