Settlement Checks Mailed In Sexual Abuse Case, Provides Some Closure
Settlement checks, which range anywhere from $1,876.77 to $27,934.93, are finally being sent in the mail to more than 8,000 former patients of Johns Hopkins gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy, providing some closure to the victims and their families. Dr. Levy was accused of snapping pictures and videotaping women during their pelvic exams. He worked for the clinic in East Baltimore, Maryland, for more than twenty years. The doctor committed suicide in 2013 after the allegations were filed against him and investigators discovered more than 1,300 explicit images. He was 54 at the time of his death.
Retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker said, “The goal is to get the award into the hands of the claimants as soon as reasonably possible and legally possible” and in doing so, provide closure. The women could not be identified in Levy’s images, so everyone who had been treated by Levy was eligible to file a claim in the class action. Initially, more than 15,200 claims were filed, but more than a third were duplicates that needed to be weeded out and more than 1,000 others were found to not have been Levy’s patients.
Over the past several years, some of the women have complained about issues including the length of the claims process, the inability to have closure and the amount of money that will go to the attorneys. In 2015, Cox awarded $32 million in fees, and the process had taken so long because each woman listed in the complaint had to be personally interviewed in order for investigators to determine the extent of damage she suffered and calculate the appropriate pay out. The former patients were placed in four categories – no perceptible injury to severe injury. After the interviews had been conducted, it was determined that the largest number of women, just over 4,700, fell into the middle-of-the-road category, which meant they were set to receive approximately $21,500 each. Some of the funds were originally set aside for appeals, which made the actual payouts higher than initially anticipated. About 2.8 percent of the women appealed their preliminary awards. Once this process was over, the remaining funds were distributed evenly among all of the women.
In 2014, Baltimore Circuit Judge Sylvester B. Cox approved the $190 million settlement between the clinic and its patients affected by Dr. Levy’s actions. The case has been referred to as the largest sexual abuse settlement from a single perpetrator in the nation’s history. “It was a painstaking, lengthy process,” said attorney Jonathan Schochor, head of the plaintiffs’ steering committee for the class action, but the long awaited distribution of the checks will provide the patients and their families with some closure.
One former patient, Bessie Smith, 29, was placed in the severe category and initially appealed her reward. She said Dr. Levy delivered her stillborn son, and when she later discovered the sexual abuse allegations, she her trauma only worsened. Smith claimed she would never go see another doctor. “I don’t trust them,” she said,adding, “I’ll die on the streets before I go back to Johns Hopkins.”
Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said the hospital system had no involvement in allocating the money.