Johns Hopkins Hospital settles lawsuit with women filmed by doctor

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Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay US$190 million (S$235.5 million) to at least 8,500 women who were secretly filmed by a doctor during gynecological exams. Some of the patients were children.

The proposed settlement, announced Monday, came in a class action lawsuit filed last year in Baltimore city court over the conduct of Dr. Nikita Levy, who worked at the hospital for 25 years. He was accused of secretly filming and taking photos of 12,000 women, often using a camera hidden in a pen.

Levy committed suicide last year as authorities weighed whether or not to bring criminal charges against him.

Prosecutors said Levy had more than 1,200 video clips and images showing patients in various states of undress in a collection of recordings started about 2005, the Baltimore Sun reported in March. He used hidden surveillance cameras including one hidden in a pen he carried. Investigators found no evidence Levy shared the images online, the newspaper reported. No criminal charges were filed.

Some of Levy’s patients were children, 62 of whom are still minors, Howard Janet, an attorney for the victims, said Monday in an emailed statement.

Compensation and closure

“When breaches of trust like these occur, no amount of compensation can erase the memories or ease the grief of victims,” Janet said. “Reaching a settlement at this stage allows the healing process to begin that much sooner.”

Johns Hopkins officials first learned of allegations against Levy in February 2013 after an employee reported seeing the doctor wear recording devices while examining patients, the hospital said last year. Levy killed himself at his home in Towson, Maryland, later that month after being fired from the hospital where he worked since 1988.

An amended class-action complaint filed in October alleged Johns Hopkins should have known Levy was engaged in illegal conduct. The hospital system negligently failed to investigate, credential, monitor and supervise Levy, according to the complaint.

Jonathan Schochor, who represents the patients, said in a statement that the women were distraught over being filmed.

"Now, with this proposed settlement, we can begin the process of healing our community," he said.

Source: Reuters, Washington Post