Sexual assault and child pornography. These words have thus far been missing from the discussion concerning former Hopkins doctor Nikita A. Levy’s alleged filming of his patients in various states of undress. A general discussion of the case reported by the Baltimore Sun can be found here. Dr. Levy’s alleged actions constitute a form of sexual assault against every patient he filmed in this manner. Moreover, Dr. Levy (and potentially others) are guilty of possessing, manufacturing and distributing child pornography to the extent that any of the victims were under age 18.
All who were filmed are victims of sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault have rights which are vitally important for Dr. Levy’s victims to understand. These rights are discussed in detail here. Most significantly, these victims have important privacy interests in the images and video obtained and they have the right to meaningfully participate in any criminal case that may result from the ongoing criminal investigation. Additionally, law enforcement has certain important obligations to these victims throughout the criminal investigation. All these victims may have civil causes of action against Dr. Levy’s estate and others.
Any person whose image was captured while that person was under 18 is a victim of federal child pornography statutes. 18 USC 2255 criminalizes the manufacture, possession, and/or distribution of any image depicting a person under age 18. The statutes impose harsh penalties on anyone in the chain of custody for such images. Moreover, 18 USC 2252, known as Masha’s law, imposes civil liability on any person in the chain of custody of the images resulting in “strict liability” for any person who appears anywhere in the chain of custody. While Dr. Levy is the obvious target under Masha’s law, liability may also be found against any organization who “possessed” (even unknowingly) the images and any other person who received them.
In addition, as child-victims of crime, Dr. Levy’s (alleged) underage victims are entitled to special victim rights protections designed to protect the child-victims against the secondary victimization that often results from the legal process. I am actively pursuing several hundred Masha’s law claims and I would be happy to help the child-victims and their parents with any issues they experience.
As an attorney who specializes in protecting the rights of victims of sexual crimes, our firm is well aware of the minefield of legal issues that are being and which will be faced with everyone touched by this tragedy-especially the victims. We would urge the victims to find the support they need to ensure their rights are protected.