Allocation team taking time with Levy settlement

Posted at 11:51 AM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 23:26:07-05
It was a historic settlement when Johns Hopkins Hospital agreed to pay $190 million to victims of Dr. Nikita Levy. The longtime gynecologist committed suicide in 2013, after investigators discovered he secretly recorded patients during exams.
It has now been more than a year-and-a-half since the July 2014 settlement, but victims are still waiting to be paid. These women say it isn't only all about the money, it's about closure. They are ready to close this very dark chapter of their lives and try to move forward.
"It hurted me so bad when I found out because me, myself, he messed me up for life," said Darlene Trader. Dr. Levy delivered all four of her daughters. 
Years of confusion finally began to make sense for Trader and countless other women. The fog lifted when news broke their OB-GYN, Dr. Nikita Levy, was under investigation for recording and taking photos of patients during exams.
Baltimore police uncovered cameras designed to look like pens and key fobs and on top of that, thousands of images on the doctor's computers.
Phyllis Morgan, who started going to Levy in her early 20's, said pictures were just one element of his misconduct. 
"The revelation of his practices confirmed some, you got something deep down inside, you just don't know why it's there, and when you hear it, the light bulb goes, 'Ah,'" she said.
Each woman remembers an uneasy feeling, an inappropriate comment, an unprofessional practice that she just brushed off at the time.
"I've never been to a GYN doctor, never had a male doctor and i figured, the things that were being said to me only a GYN doctor could say," Morgan said.
"He never wore gloves," Trader said. "When he was going, examining me down below, he had his glove on, but when I was laying back, he took the glove off."
For more than 25 years, Dr. Levy worked for Johns Hopkins Hospital, at low-cost community clinics in east Baltimore, something Morgan believes he did by design.
"He was in a community where poor people went and he took advantage of that intellect," she said. "When I look back, that's what he did and figured we weren't gonna say nothing, wouldn't nobody believe us."
Now, these women feel their voices aren't being heard again.
"In the beginning, they were sending us letters every 30 days updating us of what's going to take place and it's like now, no one's able to be reached or you have to keep on leaving voicemails," said Lakia Johnson, who was a patient of Dr. Levy's since the age of 12. "You're not getting no answers, it's like you're back at square one." 
ABC2 brought their concerns to retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker, the person hired to handle the massive settlement between Hopkins and 9600 of Dr. Levy's former patients.
"When you really think, 9,500 women being treated individually, separately, an opportunity to be heard and to tell me, how they were impacted by this conduct, takes time," Raker said.
Judge Raker said each of the women must be interviewed individually by phone. So far, a team of 40 has conducted 2200 interviews.
To make sure victims don't miss or ignore the call, they will now receive a text message a week in advance to let them know someone will be calling. Raker is asking people to continue to be patient.
"I promise you, if you were a patient of Dr. Levy's, you will receive a phone call," she said.
Raker emphasizes the interviews are scheduled at random and that no one is receiving preferential treatment. 
"It will make no difference. It's all random, nobody will receive any award until we've finished interviewing everybody," she said.
Though money won't take away their pain and suffering, the hope is they can use it to get counseling,, get some time away, to deal with a betrayal that still affects how they relate to people to this day.
"I'm always thinking someone has a hidden agenda," Johnson said. "I'm not able to trust people like i used to, and not even women doctors."
"I do my own breast exams because I'm uncomfortable for a man to touch me," Trader said, before bursting into tears. 
The lawyers representing the victims will eventually receive $32 million in legal fees. All of the money will stay in a government qualified fund until the team interviews every victim and the Circuit Court approves the allocations.
ABC2 asked the judge if she had a definitive timeline to complete the interviews, but with so many victims left, she couldn't say.  To update victims on any new developments, the allocation team has set up a website.

Here’s a look back at previous coverage:

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.