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Rapist NYC doctor Ricardo Cruciani should have been on suicide watch at Rikers when he killed self: report

The Manhattan neurologist who killed himself on Rikers Island after being found guilty of raping his patients was supposed to have been on suicide watch at the time of his death, according to a new report on jail deaths.

But Rikers Island staffers failed to place Ricardo Cruciani under the court-ordered watch — and the disgraced doctor hung himself in a shower in August, just a month before he was set to be sentenced.

The revelation was among the failures highlighted in a report from the New York Board of Correction released Wednesday regarding its investigation into nine of the 18 deaths in-custody so far this year.

Of the nine, three inmates — including Cruciani — committed suicide, four died from drug overdoses and two of suspected natural or medical-related reasons, the BOC found.

Following 68-year-old Cruciani’s July 29 conviction on 12 counts, including rape and sexual assault, a Manhattan judge ordered the New York City Department of Correction to put him on suicide watch in protective custody, the report states.

Ricardo Cruciani.
Neurologist Ricardo Cruciani killed himself after being convicted of sexually abusing patients.
Steven Hirsch

But the probe found that the DOC’s own records show that the department did not comply with the judge’s order. Instead, the depraved doc was put in general population housing.

He was found hanging, with a bed sheet tied around his neck, Aug. 15 — but a correction officer did not render immediate first aid, the investigation found. 

The report also cites dozens of incidents where DOC staff failed to take inmates to mental health or medical appointments, did not render immediate first aid to unresponsive prisoners and didn’t fully enter cells to check on them.

Among the cases cited was that of Dashawn Carter, a diagnosed schizophrenic who hung himself in his cell at the problem-plagued lockup on May 7. He missed a total of 92 medical appointments — 76 because the department didn’t escort him to the clinic, the report found.

Numbered doors of enhanced supervision housing unit.
Cruciani was supposed to be placed on suicide watch in protective custody but was put in general population housing instead.
AP
Rikers Island.
There have been 18 fatalities in New York City jails so far in 2022.
AP
A Rikers Island juvenile detention facility officer walks down a hallway.
There have been dozens of reported incidents where DOC staff failed to take inmates to mental health or medical appointments or render immediate first aid to unresponsive prisoners.
AP

Antonio Bradley, who died in-custody in June, eight days after hanging himself with his sweater in a Bronx court holding pen, had been placed on and off suicide watch repeatedly from the start of his incarceration in October 2021, the report states.

A DOC captain wrote in an “Injury to Inmate Report” that the incident was “an effort to expedite his placement on the bus back to Rikers Island from the Bronx Courts.”

When he was back in the holding cell for a court date on June 10, Bradley tied his sweater to the gate and fell to his knees. EMS took him to Lincoln Hospital, but he never regained consciousness. He was taken off life support on June 18. 

The DOC did not notify the BOC of Bradley’s passing, and said they didn’t count a death after discharge as one that took place in-custody. 

Ricardo Cruciani.
Ricardo Cruciani was found hanging, with a bed sheet tied around his neck on Aug. 15.
Alec Tabak

The report also notes low staffing levels and supervision problems at the troubled jail, as well as rampant drug use.

There have been 18 fatalities in New York City jails so far in 2022 and the report covered nine of the deaths, following an initial report earlier this year. The board is still investigating the remaining six deaths.

The DOC didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the report Thursday.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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