BALTIMORE - Baltimore police and the FBI have their hands full as they deal with the case of a Hopkins doctor who secretly videotaped his patients. But a victim advocacy group based in the Baltimore area is also working overtime, helping the women who trusted Levy with their care.
Sex crimes are often kept hidden, a secret kept one case at a time. But the case involving Johns Hopkins physician Nikita Levy created potentially hundreds of victims. The women are getting assistance through an organization called TurnAround, Inc. Gail Reid is the director of victim advocacy. She says, "Even though victims realize there are other victims, it's still an intensely personal experience."
TurnAround, private non-profit, has partnered with city police and was notified about the Levy case before it broke in early February so they could handle calls. Reid says they received 160 calls to their hotline in February, that's more than twice the normal amount they receive in a month. Assisting these victims has been a challenge, according to Reid, "It's kind of a strange situation because in some ways it's sort of a mass community crisis."
TurnAround is handling this crisis in several ways. In addition to phone calls, women can also be seen individually, although Reid indicates there is a waiting list for therapists, some of whom are working longer hours to accommodate the growing case load. The organization has also created three local support groups for former Levy patients, an option Reid says as many as 40 women have inquired about, "It seems like a lot of people that seemed to interest them. They wanted to come in and be part of that and also hear what other people were experiencing, what they were dealing with."
Reid says some former patients, some of whom are pregnant or have health issues, are struggling, not only with the thought of returning to an obstetrician or gynecologist's office, but finding one that can accommodate them. She tells ABC2, "i have heard from some of our therapists that some of the women are having trouble getting into practices so they're calling providers and being turned away."
Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe says they're working as quickly as they can to rectify appointment delays and have extended staff hours and kept clinics open on days they're usually closed. She says, "Our priority patients are the expectant moms. They should not be experiencing significant delays in OB appointments. "
Reid says it's important for Levy's former patients to get the medical treatment they need and counseling if they choose. But she says they have to do what they're comfortable with, saying, "I like people to know that we're here if they need us."
TurnAround indicates city police have been incredibly helpful throughout this process, keeping the group informed about developments and agreeing to give them a heads up so they can be prepared. Police department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells ABC2 detectives have gotten access to Levy's computers and obtained evidence. But because of the volume of material, Guglielmi says it has been turned over to the FBI. A preliminary report on their findings is expected in the next four to five weeks.