Johns Hopkins doctor found dead amid claims he secretly taped patients
By Scott Dance, Justin Fenton, Jessica Anderson | The Baltimore Sun,
BALTIMORE — Police want to identify women seen over two decades by a Johns Hopkins gynecologist who was found dead Monday amid a police investigation that he was surreptitiously photographing and videotaping his patients.
The doctor, identified as Nikita A. Levy, 54, was let go by Johns Hopkins Medicine this month after a colleague alerted security staff to the allegations, hospital officials said. They said Levy had been capturing images of patients with personal photo and video equipment.
Police uncovered what they called an “extraordinary” amount of evidence at Levy’s Towson, Md., home.
A Hopkins physician for more than two decades, Levy practiced gynecology and obstetrics at the East Baltimore Medical Center, a community clinic near the main hospital campus.
Reactions from longtime patients Monday ranged from anger to loyalty. One described him as a “good doctor,” while another called the allegations “disgusting.”
Some patients were upset that Hopkins had not informed them of the investigation in a letter the system sent this month to notify them that it had cut ties with Levy.
“I don’t understand why they don’t think it would be appropriate to tell people,” said Tasha Marie Bynum, who began seeing Levy when she was pregnant with her daughter, now 8 years old. “Why are you protecting his situation? People need to know what’s going on.”
A Hopkins spokeswoman said the system had confirmed little information about the allegations when it sent the letter. Spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said more details will be included in a letter to be sent to patients Tuesday.
Hoppe said Hopkins was informed of the allegations Feb. 4 and reported them “promptly” to Baltimore police. She said the system ended Levy’s employment Feb. 8 and offered him counseling.
“Any invasion of patient privacy is intolerable,” Hoppe said. “Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have been violated.”
She said Levy’s alleged behavior violated Hopkins code of conduct and privacy policies and was “against everything for which Johns Hopkins Medicine stands.”
Baltimore County police were called to Levy’s home at 7 a.m. Monday, a department spokeswoman said. Officers arrived to find him dead.
Spokeswoman Cathleen Batton said the death is being investigated as a suicide. No gun or knife was used. His body was to be taken to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy.
People who answered the door at Levy’s home Monday afternoon declined to comment.
Lawyer Kenneth Ravenell confirmed that he was representing Levy at the time of his death but declined to comment on the investigation, citing attorney-client privilege.
“It’s important to know that he has never been charged with any crime,” Ravenell said.
Police expect to communicate with many patients in the course of the investigation. Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators had recovered “very extensive amounts of evidence that need to be combed through.”
“I think it’s fair to say any individual who’s been treated by this doctor should contact police,” he said. “We’re preparing for a large number to come forward.”
He said a team of detectives who specialize in sex offenses had been assigned to the case.
Hoppe said Hopkins had notified a “few patients” who might have been photographed. She said the medical system is offering counseling to his patients, and has set up a call center at 855-546-3785.
She said the Hopkins Medicine Board of Trustees, meanwhile, will set up a “separate independent investigation” that “will work in tandem with law enforcement.”
Board Vice Chairman Francis X. Knott, reached Monday night, said he had no further details on the board’s plans.
“This has all happened so quickly that we haven’t had a chance to get together,” Knott said. “It’s sad all the way around.”
By Monday, Levy’s name and information had been taken down from the Web site of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, though references still were viewable on cached pages.
Levy graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1984 and completed his residency through the State University of New York system, according to records kept by the Maryland Board of Physicians. His license to practice medicine in Maryland was issued in 1988 and was up for renewal in 2014.
He had worked for Hopkins since 1988, Hoppe said.
Levy had no disciplinary actions against him, according to the board. He did not carry a license to practice in any other state.
Ciara Brown said she has been going to the East Baltimore Medical Center for five years but had stopped seeing Levy.
“I didn’t like him only because he was super aggressive,” Brown said. She said she did not like how he called her personally at home to ask why she missed her scheduled appointment.
But Levy wasn’t inappropriate during visits, she said, adding that the allegations against him could be unfounded.
“It could have been someone saying something,” she said. “I feel bad for his family.”
Donise Harrington, a patient of Levy’s for more than two decades, called the allegations and Levy’s death “hard to believe.”
Harrington said Levy delivered her now-20-year-old son, performed a tubectomy on her, and would have delivered her grandson recently had Levy made it to the hospital on time.
While she was concerned about her and her daughter’s privacy as his patients, she said she was mostly sad to lose Levy as her doctor.
“It goes through the back of your head — was I on videotape?” Harrington said. “But he was a good doctor, besides what they said about him.”
Dana Shorter, another patient, said she also had sent her daughter to Levy. She said she would stand by him if he were still alive.
“I am in a lot of shock that this has taken place,” Shorter said. “Regardless of the allegations against him, I would have remained a loyal patient to him.”
Note: The Washington Post is interested in talking to Dr. Levy’s former patients and colleagues or anyone who has further information. Please contact reporter Brigid Schulte at firstname.lastname@example.org.