Attorney says Hopkins was informed of improper exams before investigation

A lead attorney in a multimillion-dollar settlement against Johns Hopkins Medicine said Friday that some clients complained to medical staff about improper exams before the internal investigation that uncovered illegal filming of female patients by gynecologist Nikita Levy.

"All I know, and I'm taking the word of certain people who were patients, was at some point in time or some points in time, patients made complaints to hospital personnel," said Baltimore attorney Jonathan Schochor.

Schochor said attorneys conducted interviews with thousands of patients, and were told some had made verbal complaints about Levy. He couldn't specify how many clients made their concerns known to Johns Hopkins staff members.

He also made the claims on "CBS This Morning" during an interview with him and two of Levy's former patients.

"He was reported to the charge nurses, he was reported to the other physicians, he was reported to any personnel they could find at the clinic," Schochor told CBS.

The allegations raise questions whether Johns Hopkins was alerted to concerns about Levy before a suspicious staff member reported him in February 2013. Officials have said the employee's report triggered the investigation that led them to discover Levy had hundreds of images from medical exams.

On Friday, Hopkins officials denied that Levy's patients had notified its nurses, doctors or staff members about suspicious conduct.

"We categorically deny Mr. Schochor's allegations," Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in an email. "When we were informed of Dr. Levy's actions, we acted quickly and decisively."

Hoppe did not respond to additional questions.

Last week, a Baltimore judge approved a $190 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Medicine, filed on behalf of Levy's patients. As many as 9,500 former patients might be eligible for a payout. Lawyers said they have interviewed more than 4,000 former patients, some of whom said they had been subjected to unnecessary exams, exams without another staff member present or touching that could be considered sexual in nature.

Levy, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Johns Hopkins Community Health Systems, practiced in an East Baltimore clinic for 25 years. A criminal investigation discovered a pen camera and other covert devices investigators say Levy used to record patients. Detectives found more than 1,300 photographs or videos at his Towson home.

Levy was fired days after the investigation. He killed himself a short time later.

Schochor said none of the patients his firm interviewed say they put their concerns in writing, and "there's no evidence of any coverup on the part of the institution."

He added that "no one is making any allegations of any wrongdoing on the part of the institution."

A. Dwight Pettit, another attorney for former patients of Levy, said none of his clients have told him they reported Levy's behavior to medical workers. Some, he said, questioned Levy himself as to why they had to disrobe when they came to his office for test results. When they raised objections, Levy gave them the option of choosing another doctor, Pettit said.

"They didn't report it, no. But there was discomfort with touching in certain areas that wasn't appropriate," Pettit said. "I do recall a couple of them being told if they didn't do what the doctor ordered, they needed to see somebody else."

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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