BALTIMORE (AP) — A "rogue" gynecologist who used tiny cameras to secretly record videos and photos of his patients has forced 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 pen-like camera he wore around his neck and alerted authorities.
Levy committed suicide days later, as a federal investigation led to roughly 1,200 videos and 140 images stored 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. This breach of trust, this betrayal — this is how they felt."
The preliminary settlement approved by a judge Monday is one of the largest on record in the U.S. 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 the exam room.
Hopkins said insurance will cover the settlement, which "properly balances the concerns of thousands of plaintiffs with obligations the Health System has to provide ongoing and superior care to the community."
"It is our hope that this settlement_and findings by law enforcement that images were not shared_helps those affected achieve a measure of closure," the hospital statement said, adding that "one individual does not define Johns Hopkins."
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.
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