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Pediatrician Mel Levine Found Dead While Abuse Charges Linger

By Danielle Sullivan |

Mel Levine, Dr Mel Levine, all kinds of minds, a mind at a time, Dr. Melvin D. Levine

Dr. Mel Levine died at the age of 71 with abuse charges still looming.

Pediatrician Dr. Mel Levine, 71, was found dead in his North Carolina home one full day after another sexual abuse lawsuit was officially filed against him yesterday in Boston.

Known for his advocacy in the field of learning disabilities, his approach emphasized that whatever learning disabilities or learning differences children had, every child had strengths that they could focus on and build upon.

Levine wrote several books on the subject including, A Mind at a Time, Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, and The Myth of Laziness.  A charismatic speaker, he also had a PBS series, “Misunderstood Minds”, and maintained a high paced schedule of lectures for parents and teachers.

Three years ago, news first broke out of abuse charges when a lawsuit was filed against him claiming that he sexually molested five boys under his care. Abuse charges followed him in North Carolina and in 2009, Levine agreed to never practice medicine again.

The New York Times reports that Levine has another lawsuit filed against him just yesterday by Boston lawyer, Carmen L. Durso who filed the original lawsuit three years ago:

Mr. Durso held a news conference at his office on Thursday to announce a new medical malpractice and sexual abuse suit against Dr. Levine, charging him with abusing 40 patients, all boys, while he was a doctor at Children’s Hospital Boston, from 1966 to 1985.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts, claimed that Dr. Levine had “stroked, massaged and manipulated the genitals of his patients in a manner which was not medically necessary.” It sought certification as a class action, on behalf of an estimated 5,000 boys that Dr. Levine treated while at the hospital.

The Boston Globe reports that “the news of Levine’s death came a day after a class action lawsuit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the doctor, who was also a best-selling author, sexually abused thousands of his patients.”

Dr. Levine was actually never convicted of any abuse charges, and he never faced criminal charges. He denied all allegations. No official cause of death has yet been determined.

Source: The New York Times. Boston Globe

Photo: Simon and Schuster

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About Danielle Sullivan

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Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “Pediatrician Mel Levine Found Dead While Abuse Charges Linger

  1. Phil Cooper says:

    It looks like one ambulance-chasing attorney’s lunch ticket just got canceled. (Cue tiny violins.)

  2. questions says:

    Does anyone have a biography of this person? I’ve searched and found very little. Seems he moved, maybe to try and escape legal charges. Everyone please note: kids with learning struggles are more vulnerable to abuse, and may be a) more isolated, and b) have fewer strategies to successfully communicate feelings that something could be (or is) wrong. If you’d like more thoughts on these matters, please read my blog:
    http://nldthoughtsandfeelings.wordpress.com.
    Thanks!

  3. Sean says:

    Um, Phil Cooper:

    Levine was forced to surrender his North Carolina Medical license in 2009 after the Board told him they had damning evidence that he had molested boys. He agreed never to practice medicine anywhere in the world again.

    Ambulance chasing lawyer? No. You might want to educate yourself on the issue of how many men who have been sexually abused come forward. 90 % do not. And when they do, it’s no cakewalk. Hours of humiliating depositions, dredging up every last part of their personal lives.

    There’s another very similar case involving child psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres, a former President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He was arrested in California for molesting dozens of young boys sent to him for therapy. As in the Levine case, victims had been coming forward for decades and nothing was done.

    And like Levine, Ayres worked at Boston Children’s Hospital in the 1960s.

  4. Kate says:

    Actually, Phil, the case will likely continue against his estate. Consider for a moment that these charges could be true. After all, a greedy lawyer who won’t get paid AT ALL unless a jury finds the defendant guilty by a preponderance of the evidence (sexual abuse cases don’t settle easily–it’s a high risk for a lawyer working on a contingency fee), so the lawyer must have something to hang his hat on. I don’t know the evidence against Mel Levine, but it would not be the first time that a beloved education guru has turned out to be a pedophile.

  5. Kelly says:

    Let’s remember a few things: These charges go back to the 60s and we are talking about a DOCTOR. Again and again we hear about how children were/are intimidated and threatened by their abusers not to talk. Now imagine that that abuser is a famous doctor, researcher, writer. I’m not sure people stop to really think about how a child responds to such threats. It is developmentally normal for children to obey authority and rules. If they are told, “Don’t tell” by a powerful person, many children will comply. Think about it. We like to think “I wouldn’t have” or “my child wouldn’t”. Hm. Really? Parents were told they could not come into the room while their children were examined by Dr. Levine–and they obeyed!

  6. Sassy Fighter says:

    When men seek jobs with small children, they need to be thoroughly checked out, have fMRIs every year, and never be left alone with a child. Women have the motherly instincts, but more and more, we are finding that men who take these traditionally female jobs, are in it for one reason, to sexually abuse children.

  7. dr whatever says:

    Surprisingly, I read nowhere that his body was properly identified or that his cause of death was explained. Doctors, hospitals, and other possible defendants have a unique way of making one person disappear and another similar looking body from the morgue show up, especially when millions and reputations are at stake. I’m sure he had millions in life insurance that could easily pay for retirement in some Central or South American city or Israel.

    He has been out of the limelight for years and people may forget what he looks like as a much older and sick person. Just because one family member says that is him to the medical examiner, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Where is the court and law enforcement authorities on this one?

  8. Brian says:

    Be careful with your rush to judgment. Mel has NEVER been found guilty of ANY of the charges against him. He was a great educator and a special man, who helped countless people of all ages with learning disabilities.

    AND, by giving the information many of you have about what to look for in a pedofile, you are damning someone and implying that ‘of course, he was guilty.’ Be careful on your speculation. But as the title even suggests, it is more sensational to have a headline that says ‘While Abuse Charges Linger’ than looking at the truth.

    Shameful

  9. Sandi says:

    Thank you Brian! Mel Levine was a fine person who I had the pleasure of knowing for over 25 years. His contributions to the field of education in general and specifically special education are immeasurable. He will be missed.

  10. Susan says:

    To those who are assuming that Dr. Levine is guilty, based on the sad fact that so many children have been abused by various authority figures: please remember that in this country there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is established.

    The plaintiffs in this case were young boys who were being seen because of learning disabilities. By definition, that diagnosis includes problems with memory and attention. Part of the assessment in the clinic is a physical examination that includes assessment of Tanner Stage, that rates the status of the genitals, whether the testes are descended, and other indicators of sexual maturity. Dr. Levine would have been remiss had he not done that exam.

    Now some 40 years later these same boys are accusing Dr. Levine of sexual abuse – quite possibly at the encouragement of Mr. Durso, who seems to be taking the tack that since there were thousands of patients there must have been thousands of victims. I watched the interview and saw the way Mr. Durso uses language. He stated at one point that Dr. Levine “left the State (Massachusetts)”. That is perp talk! What Dr. Levine did was take a new position in North Carolina where he was head of the clinic in which I worked at the time.

    So please – before condemning him on sketchy evidence and stripping his estate, take a deep cleansing breath and remember why the founding fathers set it up the way they did.

  11. Michael says:

    “It looks like one ambulance-chasing attorney’s lunch ticket just got canceled”.

    Atty. Durso is continuing with the class action suit against the Levine estate (aka – Dr. Levine’s widow) and he reported that he expects up to 5000 individuals to line up for their share of these proceeds – If Mr. Durso receives 33% of the money from each individual – well, you can do the math. Mr. Durso may never have to work again in his life. Hardly seems like an altruistic motivation, given that Dr. Levine is no longer alive.

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