Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Johns Hopkins Hospital to pay $190 million to 8,000 patients secretly videotaped by gynecologist

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to a $190 million settlement with more than 8,000 patients of a gynecologist who secretly photographed and videotaped women in the examining room with a pen-like camera he wore around his neck, lawyers said Monday.

Dr. Nikita Levy was fired in February 2013, days after an employee alerted hospital authorities about her suspicions. Ten days later, Levy committed suicide.

The agreement, announced Monday, is one of the largest settlements on record in the U.S. involving sexual misconduct by a physician.

It all but closes a case that never produced criminal charges but threatened the reputation of one of the world's leading medical institutions and, according to lawyers, traumatized thousands of women, even though their faces were not visible in the images and it could not be established with certainty which patients were recorded or how many.

"All of these women were brutalized by this," said the women's lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor. "Some of these women needed counseling, they were sleepless, they were dysfunctional in the workplace, they were dysfunctional at home, they were dysfunctional with their mates. This breach of trust, this betrayal — this is how they felt."

Johns Hopkins declined to comment to the Associated Press ahead of a planned announcement later Monday.

Baltimore police were called in by Johns Hopkins just before Levy's firing. They and federal investigators discovered roughly 1,200 videos and 140 images in a search of his home but said there was no evidence he shared the material with others.

A class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 8,000 of his patients who contacted lawyers was brought against Johns Hopkins last fall, alleging the hospital should have known what he was up to.

Some women told of being inappropriately touched and verbally abused by Levy, according to Schochor. In some cases, women said they were regularly summoned to Levy's office for unnecessary pelvic exams.

Myra James, 67, had been going to him for annual exams for 20 years. Since his misconduct became public, she hasn't been to a gynecologist once.

"I can't bring myself to go back," James said. "You're lying there, exposed. It's violating and it's horrible, and my trust is gone. Period."

The AP normally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes, but James agreed to the use of her name.

The settlement, involving eight law firms, is subject to final approval by a judge. A forensic psychologist and a post-traumatic stress specialist interviewed the plaintiffs and placed each woman into a category based on trauma level. That will determine how much money each one will receive.

Hopkins issued a statement in October saying it was working to settle the claims in a way that "helps our patients and colleagues move forward."

Levy, 54, graduated from Cornell University and had been employed at Hopkins since 1988. When the allegations came to light, he was working at Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Center, a community practice affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital. During his 25-year tenure, he saw roughly 12,600 patients.

His suicide — by wrapping his head in a plastic bag with a hose connected to a helium tank — frustrated everyone who wanted to know his motives and see him face justice.

Schochor said there is no way to identify which patients were recorded without having them "sit around a table and try to identify sexual organs without pictures of faces," something the lawyer said would be impossible and could cause the women more distress.

Hopkins sent out letters to his entire patient list last year apologizing to the women and urging them to seek care with other Hopkins specialists.

But hundreds were so traumatized that they "dropped out of the medical system," and some even stopped sending their children to doctors, Schochor said.

James said her dealings with Levy were always unsettling. She said she found it strange that he conducted examinations without a nurse present.

"He was cold, and I was kind of scared of him. His bedside manner — he didn't have any," she said. "But all my doctors were at Hopkins. I've had two surgeries there, my primary doctor is there. I was used to going there for everything."

Johns Hopkins Hospital to pay $190 million to 8,000 patients secretly videotaped by gynecologist 07/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 12:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tiki Barber will join his brother, Ronde, on Fox broadcast for Bucs-Giants

    Bucs

    FOX announced Monday night that former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will have a familiar face joining him as a guest analyst for the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants game in Tampa: his twin brother Tiki, who will join …

    Tik Barber, right, will join his brother, Ronde, left, as a guest analyst on the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants broadcast on FOX. [Times files (2006)]
  2. Cannons will fire again when Bucs return to Raymond James Stadium

    Bucs

    As good as the Bucs looked in their season-opening 29-7 win against the Bears on Sunday, fans couldn't help but notice that the success didn't sound the same at Raymond James Stadium.

     Ron Gutschmidt is perched on top of the Buccaneer pirate ship ready to activate the ship's cannons with the press of a button after a Buccaneer touchdown. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  3. Rick and Tom podcast: How should Joe Maddon be remembered tonight?

    The Heater

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014 in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast. They discuss the mixed emotions …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014. [Getty Images]
  4. Watch live: President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly

    World

    UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron are expected to take the spotlight at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations — but it's the tough global challenges from the nuclear threat in North Korea and the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims to the …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  5. Police seek suspect in attack on elderly woman in St. Petersburg (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police are seeking the public's help in finding a woman they say violently attacked a 69-year-old woman earlier this month.