BALTIMORE — The actions of a gynecologist who used tiny cameras to secretly record videos and photos of his patients will force one of the world's top medical centers to pay $190 million to 8,000 women and girls.
Dr. Nikita Levy was fired after 25 years with the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore in February 2013 after a female co-worker spotted the penlike camera he wore around his neck and alerted authorities.
Levy, 54, committed suicide days later, as a federal investigation led to the discovery of about 1,200 videos and 140 images on computers in his home.
"All of these women were brutalized by this," said their 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."
The preliminary settlement approved by a judge Monday is one of the largest on record in the United States involving sexual misconduct by a physician. It all but closes a case that never produced criminal charges but seriously threatened Hopkins' reputation.
Lawyers said thousands of women were traumatized, 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. Schochor said it would be impossible and only cause more distress to "sit around a table and try to identify sexual organs without pictures of faces."
Plaintiffs' attorney Howard Janet said 62 girls were among the victims and that Levy violated hospital protocol by sending chaperones out of exam rooms.
Levy saw roughly 12,600 patients during his years at Hopkins. About 8,000 joined the class-action suit.
Hopkins said insurance will cover the settlement.
"It is our hope that this settlement … helps those affected achieve a measure of closure," the hospital said in a statement.