Lawsuits are piling up against gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy who is accused of secretly videotaping patients through a pen camera that he wore around his neck during examinations. An employee reported the doctor in early February, but the doctor killed himself two weeks later before the investigation into his secret taping practices was revealed. According to the Huffington Post, more than 2,000 patients and former patients of Levy have called a hotline set up by the hospital, and class-action lawsuits have been filed against Johns Hopkins.
On February 4, one of Dr. Levy’s coworkers alerted the hospital of her suspicions of the gynecologist’s alleged misconduct, according to a letter from the hospital’s CEO, Dr. Paul B. Rothman. Upon the employee’s speculation that Levy had worn a pen camera while examining patients, Hopkins security personnel questioned Levy at his office on February 5, and devices similar to the one described by the employee were seen in his office. The CEO’s letter, which was sent to a law firm and copied to the Associated Press, prompted a police investigation that terminated Dr. Levy’s position on February 8.
Dr. Levy had practiced gynecology and obstetrics at Hopkins clinics since 1988, and many women praised him, as he always worked to squeeze in patients’ last-minute appointments and gave them his personal pager number. A midwife who worked with Levy explained her disbelief of the situation: “He had one of the biggest fan clubs in Baltimore, and he was always very, very busy. People wanted to see him. He saw some of the same patients for many, many years. They trusted him with their most intimate secrets.”
Two weeks after hospital security was alerted about the misconduct, Dr. Levy killed himself in the basement of his Towson home. He left a suicide note with a message for his wife on their car, which stated that he did not want to “see her suffer with the truth,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
Patients who are seeking legal action have filed complaints that seek tens of millions of dollars in damages from Levy and Hopkins. Charges include negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Investigators said they discovered large amounts of multimedia evidence, and they’re trying to determine if anyone else was involved in making the records, and whether any have been posted on the Internet or sold. However, police have been reluctant to share details of the investigation, but they did confirm that Levy recorded some patients using a camera hidden in the top of a pen.
Johns Hopkins has also remained quiet about the investigation, although they did express sympathy for Levy’s alleged victims: “Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have been violated.” The hospital’s silence, however, is causing anxiety to many of Levy’s past patients who have sought legal aid and are looking for answers. They want to know whether they are identified in any video or photo and whether there is any sign the images were distributed to others. Russell Butler, executive director of the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, notes that even a small amount of information can help reduce some of the patients’ stress: “You’ve got to treat them with all appropriate respect and candor and not pretend like this didn’t happen.”