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Former Drexel Neurologist Pleads Guilty To Groping 7 Women At Clinic

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) - A neurologist facing allegations of sexual misconduct in three states has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that he groped women at a Philadelphia clinic.

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani admitted Tuesday that he assaulted seven patients in 2016 while he was chairman of Drexel University's neurology department. He will have to register as a sex offender and will have to forfeit his medical license under his plea agreement.

Cruciani could have seen seven years in jail, but the deal his attorneys struck keeps him out of prison, and on probation for that amount of time.

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The Associated Press reported Sunday that at least 17 women in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have stepped forward to accuse Cruciani of sexual misconduct in incidents that go back at least a dozen years.

Some victims claim they've since attempted suicide in the aftermath of the abuse.

"We know that there are investigations continuing in New Jersey, and New York, and we believe, also, in Philadelphia as well on behalf of a number of other victims who've come forward," said Jeffrey Fritz, a lawyer for the victims. "But it's because of these courageous women who came forward to the district attorney's office that Dr. Cruciani will not be practicing medicine and not victimizing any other patients."

Sara Hicks wanted to show her face on Tuesday, angry that the man who took advantage of her won't see time in jail.

"That's difficult. That's difficult. I wasn't happy with that," she said.

In court, the doctor's lawyers said he was twice investigated by Drexel University and cleared.

That's a sobering revelation for these women

"Clearly they were protecting their own interests, that's are pretty obvious. They're looking at their own liability in this," Sara's mother, Deborah Hicks told CBS3.

The judge won't begin Cruciani's probation sentence until next week.

The courts in Philadelphia are allowing him to travel out of the country for a wedding.

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"The judge imposed that because she wanted to make sure he'd return and of course he will," said Linda Dale Hoffa, attorney for Cruciani.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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