Johns Hopkins Health System will pay $190 million to settle a lawsuit on behalf of at least 8,500 women whose pelvic exams were secretly recorded by a gynecologist who later committed suicide.
The Baltimore hospital said the settlement will be paid from insurance. The doctor, Nikita Levy, killed himself last year amid an investigation of the recordings and may have filmed as many as 12,600 women, lawyers for the victims said.
The settlement “properly balances the concerns of thousands of plaintiffs with obligations the health system has to provide ongoing and superior care to the community,” Johns Hopkins said Monday in a statement. “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.”
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 cameras including one in a pen he carried. Investigators found no evidence Levy shared the images online, the newspaper reported. No criminal charges were filed.
The settlement is one of the largest in the U.S. involving claims of sexual misconduct by a physician, Howard Janet, an attorney for the victims, said in a phone interview. At least 62 of Levy’s patients were children, Janet said.
“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.”
Circuit Judge Sylvester B. Cox in Baltimore on Monday granted preliminary approval to the accord. He is to consider final approval at a Sept. 19 hearing.
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 health system, where he worked in various locations 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. John Hopkins denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement agreement, Janet said.
The case is Jane Doe No. 1 v. The John Hopkins Hospital, 24-C-13-001041, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland.
With assistance from Andrew Zajac in Washington.