A doctor is accused of sexually abusing at least 17 vulnerable patients with a rare disorder.

Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, a Philadelphia neurologist, is accused of sexually abusing 17 women at medical facilities in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

The women say Cruciani forced them into unwanted touching and kissing with at least one patient claiming Cruciani tried to force her to touch his genitals and then masturbated in front of her.

The women say they continued seeing the prominent neurologist because they viewed him as their only hope of getting better. The 63-year-old specializes in rare, complicated syndromes that produce devastating pain.

"I felt so trapped," an unnamed woman from Dutchess County told the Associated Press. "This was a man who really knew about a rare condition that I had. I couldn't find anyone else with his level of knowledge or understanding, and he had my health and my medications over my head. I did what I did to survive."

Another victim claims Cruciani sexually abused her over a dozen times, including forcing her into oral sex.

"There was nothing consensual about it," the woman told the Associated Press. "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."

Cruciani is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a hearing regarding charges that include indecent assault.

Spot a typo? Let us know.

Here are this week's Top 5 news stories from the Hudson Valley