This just in from the desk of Boston lawyer Carmen Durso:
A new lawsuit was filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court by 11 North Carolina residents against Children’s Hospital Boston alleging sexual abuse by Dr. Melvin Levine, the renowned former pediatrician who committed suicide last month.
After practicing at Children’s from 1966-1985, Levine joined the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine and maintained a pediatric medical practice there, the lawsuit says; in 2009, Levine signed a Consent Order, agreeing to surrender permanently his medical license.
The plaintiffs in this recent case are not part of the class action suit that Durso filed against Children’s Hospital Boston and Levine (now against Levine’s estate) last month, Durso said. The claim against Children’s in this case, is “because of what the hospital failed to do in their supervision of Levine,” Durso said. “As a result of Children’s several failures,” the lawsuit says. “Melvin Levine was able to treat, and to sexually abuse,” these 11 North Carolina plaintiffs.
Durso says that to date, 75 Massachusetts and North Carolina patients (some who are plaintiffs in the lawsuits, some not) have alleged that they were sexually abused as young patients of Levine. Specifically, the lawsuit says Levine “performed genital examinations on them which were not medically indicated.”
Dr. Melvin Levine, the former Children’s Hospital pediatrician accused of sexually abusing young patients, wrote that his suicide should in no way be interpreted as an admission of guilt, according to documents released to the media by a Boston lawyer, Carmen Durso, overseeing a class action lawsuit against Levine.
According to the documents, Levine’s suicide note begins: “Bambi: I am so sorry. There were no alternatives.”
The documents include police reports, Levine’s apparent suicide note and personal writings that appear to be a journal. A spokesperson for the North Carolina Orange County Sheriff’s Office verified the first two pages, but said he could not comment on the rest of the documents. The Boston Globe quoted Durso, the lawyer, saying he obtained the documents through a colleague as part of a public records request.
The first entry in what is presented as Levine’s journal, dated February 11, is titled: “Chapter 11: The End.” On February 14, an entry says: “I am hoping and expecting that my suicide will in no way be seen as an admission of guilt. I continue to maintain that I did nothing that was wrong or immoral in my patient care throughout 40 years of practicing pediatrics. I am an innocent victim of the “copycat phenomenon” at its most malignant aided and abetted by a sadistic and predatory press and an unscrupulous plaintiff attorney.”
In the final entry, February 17, the day before Levine was found in the woods, where he apparently shot himself in the forehead, according to the police reports, the journal says:
(See a PDF of the full note.)
The North Carolina News & Observer reports today that Melvin Levine, the former Children’s Hospital pediatrician accused of sexually abusing his young patients left a suicide note, which was discovered by his wife on the day that a class action lawsuit was filed against him in Boston.
Barbara Levine found the note last Thursday night, according to the sheriff’s report, the same day 30 former patients filed a class-action lawsuit against Levine in Massachusetts. He is accused of unnecessarily examining boy patients’ genitals since the 1960s in Massachusetts and North Carolina. In 2009, he agreed to cease practicing medicine but denied the claims against him.
Carmen Durso, a lawyer for the class-action plaintiffs told the paper that if, in fact, Levine’s death was a suicide, that could be a critical factor in the case.
“If in fact there was a suicide, that’s very relevant to the court action we’re doing,” Durso said. A suicide might be considered an “admission by conduct” in the eyes of a jury, he said.
Durso plans to aim the suit at Levine’s estate and will seek a judge’s permission to solicit 5,000 male patients who saw Levine in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s to join the class-action suit.
Durso also plans to sue Boston Children’s Hospital on behalf of at least five patients at UNC-Chapel Hill, where Levine moved three years before the first lawsuit against him surfaced in 1988. Durso said families complained about Levine’s alleged sexual abuse of their sons as early as 1967. Durso had previously sued Levine on behalf of five individual patients between 2005 and 2008.
The North Carolina Medical Examiner is investigating. Meanwhile, a funeral service is to be held for Levine today in Brookline.