Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Update on Dr. Mel Levine: "Medic Accused of Abuse Ends Practice"

Click Here for the August 5, 2008 New York Times Update.

Strange days. My blog, Roxiticus Desperate Housewives, is having its biggest week ever due to another's misfortune.

On Monday, my daughters brought home fliers from Mendham Township Elementary School that announced that the presentation by Dr. Mel Levine scheduled for April 8th had been cancelled. Mysteriously, the backpack flier did not explain why but referred us to a "statement" on the MTES web site.

Turns out that Dr. Mel Levine has been accused of child abuse by at least seven different men who were his patients in the 1980s.

So I blogged about it (see the full story here). Tried to stay factual and objective, despite my shock and devastation. Scandal, it turns out, is only funny when it doesn't hit so close to home. We can all make fun of former Governor Spitzer and his prostitutes, or former Governor McGreevey and his gay (or not) three-ways involving his ex-wife. But when an accused child molester is all set to be put up on a pedestal in my own town (tickets sold out months in advance), to come to our school and lecture parents on children and learning? Wow.

I praise Mendham Township Schools Superintendent Christine Johnson for making the difficult decision to cancel the program, and communicating the information in a way that sheltered our young children from confusing and potentially frightening messages. No one wants to jump on a bandwagon and ruin a man's reputation. Let's hope Dr. Levine's case moves quickly to court so that it can be resolved one way or another. An update on school district decisions regarding Dr. Levine's scheduled presentations around the country can be found here.

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives will continue to follow the story and court case as it unfolds. Here's an update I found online from David Abel's April 4th and 5th articles in the Boston Globe:

Medic accused of abuse ends [medical] practice; Levine asks N.C. to suspend license

The former Children's Hospital Boston pediatrician and best-selling author accused of sexually abusing boys in his care suspended his medical license in North Carolina yesterday, according to the state's medical board. The day before, university officials said, Dr. Levine voluntarily stopped seeing patients at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where he has taught for more than 20 years. "Dr. Levine has volunteered to stop seeing patients at UNC, at least until the lawsuits are resolved," said Tom Hughes, a spokesman for the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Hughes said the university has not received any complaints about Levine, who was a professor in the Department of Pediatrics there between 1987 and 2006. Since then, Levine has held an unpaid appointment as an adjunct professor at the university, continuing to see patients twice a month. Levine, who has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to promote his books, worked at Children's Hospital between 1971 and 1985, specializing in children with developmental and educational issues.

A lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court this week accused Dr. Melvin D. Levine, 68, former chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Children's Hospital, of abusing at least seven boys who came to him for treatment. The suit was filed by an unnamed plaintiff who was 8 years old when the alleged abuse began between 1980 and 1985.

The action Levine took to suspend his own medical license on April 4th means that he would have to go through a potentially lengthy process to have his license reactivated. "He requested to be put on inactive status," said Thomas Mansfield, legal director of the North Carolina Medical Board. "He would have to make a request to reactivate his license. The process to do that depends on how long it's been since his license was active, and if there are any investigations pending." Mansfield would not confirm that Levine is being investigated, "I'm not commenting on whether there's an ongoing investigation, but I will say that the North Carolina Medical Board always investigates any report of misconduct by a physician," Mansfield said. Board officials declined to comment on the investigation, but said Levine has no record in North Carolina of any violations. They would not comment on whether complaints have been filed against him.

Carmen L. Durso, a Boston lawyer representing five of the alleged victims, said that investigators at the North Carolina Medical Board had contacted him as part of an investigation into Levine's record. At a press conference in his Boston law office on April 4th, Durso said he has received 21 calls since Monday, when the lawsuit was filed, from people who described themselves as victims or relatives of victims of Levine. "I got a number of calls from mothers," Durso said. "Those mothers said to me, 'My son told me he didn't want to go back to see Dr. Levine, because he put his hands in my genitals area' . . . Some said they were broken-hearted, because they didn't listen to their sons."

Levine's Boston lawyer, Edward Mahoney, did not return calls yesterday. But earlier this week he said the doctor is innocent. "Dr. Mel Levine has provided pediatric care to more than 15,000 children over 40 years and categorically denies that he has ever been abusive in any way toward any patient," Mahoney said in a statement. "He adamantly denies these claims. Dr. Levine is distressed about the distorted or misinterpreted memories from decades past and questions the motivations."

Elizabeth Kuniholm, an attorney in Raleigh, NC, said she has received multiple calls from North Carolina residents who said they had been abused by Levine. "A number of people have come forward with complaints about their examinations with him, and we're working with the North Carolina Medical Board to make sure they get all the information," she said. "I'm investigating a number of cases. I hope anyone who has relevant information will come forward."

Levine's Boston lawyer, Edward Mahoney, did not return calls, but earlier in the week he said the doctor is innocent. "Dr. Mel Levine has provided pediatric care to more than 15,000 children over 40 years and categorically denies that he has ever been abusive in any way toward any patient," Mahoney said in a statement. "He adamantly denies these claims."

To see the WCVB-TV NewsCenter Five (the ABC network affiliate in Boston) report on the child abuse allegations against Dr. Mel Levine, including an interview with Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso, click here to access the YouTube Video.

On Monday, April 28th, I posted a brief update on the case entitled "Equal Time for Dr. Mel Levine."


Keith Conners said...

Do you have any new information regarding Dr. Levine's case? I have not seen any updates since the April releases in NY Times and Boston Globe.