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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Dr. Mel Levine's Suicide

By February 23, 2011

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There aren't too many controversies in pediatrics. Well, except for vaccines, sunscreen, ADHD medications, spanking, the use and over-use of antibiotics, Tiger Moms, attachment parenting, and circumcision, etc.

Maybe pediatrics and parenting does have its fair share of controversial issues.

Reports of a pediatrician sexually abusing his patients would have to be one of the most controversial and terrible issues to hear about though. As surprising as it is, the case of Dr. Melvin Levine, a pediatrician, who was once associated with Children's Hospital Boston, is not the only case like this in the news recently. Dr. Earl Bradley, a pediatrician in Delaware, was recently indicted after being charged with molesting 103 children in his office.

Mel Levine graduated from Harvard Medical School, taught at Children's Hospital Boston, and was considered one of the leading experts on learning disabilities, writing a number of books, including A Mind at a Time and The Myth of Laziness. Unfortunately, lawsuits claim that Dr. Levine was also sexually abusing his patients. He committed suicide a day after a class action lawsuit was filed by 40 of his former patients.

Stories like this make you wonder who you can trust sometimes. It shouldn't necessarily be that you can't trust anyone though, but maybe no one should get a free pass if you suspect something isn't right.

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February 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(1) kf says:

Circumcision (surgical removal of the prepuce) is often performed on infants WITHOUT their consent and with NO medical need. In the United States, it is deemed abusive to cut the genitals of girl children unless there is a medical need (it is a federal offense).

February 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm
(2) Christopher says:

There’s also the notorious case of identical twin pediatricians, Dr. Scott and Dr. Mark Blankenburg in Ohio. In 2009, they were convicted of 75 counts between them of child molestation; child porn and bribery. They are both behind bars and will be there for many years.


And it’s not just pediatricians: Dr. William Ayres – a former President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – was arrested in 2007 for molesting young boys sent to him for therapy. Forty victims have come forward in California and the Boston Police are looking for Ayres victims as well.

Like Mel Levine, Ayres worked at Boston Children’s Hospital- from 1959 – 1963.

Child psychiatrist Dr. Donald Lee Rife, who also graduated from Harvard Medical School and worked at Boston Children’s Hospital – from 1964-1966- was arrested in Florida for molesting a boy and has had his license revoked in three states for molesting young boys.

These cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

February 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm
(3) Megan says:

Actually his death has not yet been ruled a suicide. Labeling it a suicide before that has been conclusively determined is irresponsible. From what I understand an autopsy is pending. Cite your sources.


March 6, 2011 at 11:47 am
(4) Dave says:

This NY Times link that you provided has been updated with a confirmation that it was a suicide. Sad news anyway you get it.

March 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm
(5) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

“Sad news anyway you get it.”

Yes. It is a terribly sad story, any way you look at it.

I think the big question now for some is whether or not the suicide note will become public…

February 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(6) mark says:

suicide note was reported on Tuesday in the North Carolina newspapers. A very sad ending

February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm
(7) Dr. Mary Johnson says:

Vaccines would not have been such a “controversy” if our idiot press hadn’t gone celebrity-happy and instead looked at the science.

Interesting you mention ADHD, as Dr. Levine was an expert in the field – someone who actually promoted the notion that there were all kinds of minds and all kinds of normal and not every child needed to be medicated.

Yes, someone in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department let it leak that Levine’s death was a suicide – but the N.C. Medical Examiner’s office has yet to rule – and I’m one of those people who’d like to see the note he reportedly left behind before Children’s Hospital is forcred to award millions of dollars awarded to his mostly-anonymous accusers – based on the point-&-run tactics worthy of the Salem Witch Trials.

And the very ugly FACT remains, that innocent or guilty, Melvin Levine was hounded-to-death by an angry mob.

His death isn’t enough for them. They want money.

kf, male and female circumcision are VASTLY different things. Equating one to the other is almost criminally irresponsible in my book. It’s also been my personal/anecdotal observation that severe urinary tract infections requiring hospitalization is on the rise in un-circumcised male infants.

February 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm
(8) bluefairy says:

*Dr* Johnson, you are a day late…these brave men who were abused as children have identified themselves. Can you imagine the bravery THAT took as opposed to brutalizing victims of sexual abuse on your blog and not allowing any challenge to you biased ill informed statements?
Kudos to this one for allowing us all to speak, even the vitriol written by *Dr* Johnson.

February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm
(9) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

“Actually his death has not yet been ruled a suicide.”

The article I linked to in the blog post discussed the suicide note.

It may not have gotten as much media attention as his death, so I understand why you may have missed the news.

Here is an article that discusses it further:
Accused pediatrician left suicide note

February 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm
(10) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg.”

I don’t know about that, but there is another case I do know about because I read about it in the local paper. A child psychiatrist in Austin, Texas molested a neighbor, who was a friend of his teen daughter.

Mother of child abuse victim: How to keep this from happening to your daughter

The case recently came up in the news again because of a new law (SB 263) that is being proposed “Relating to the revocation or suspension of the license of a physician placed on deferred adjudication community supervision or arrested for certain offenses.”

February 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm
(11) Anderson says:

Ms. Johnson:
What is your proof that Levine was “hounded to death by a very angry mob?”

You do realize that he paid money to victims back in 2008, do you not?

Levine was a big boy. If he thought he was innocent, he would have fought to keep his medical license.

Not sure what your dog in this fight is- but one suspects it has something more to do with unresolved anger at the North Carolina Medical Board.

Additionally, you said on your blog that you had received emails from Levine’s victims. Why not open up your comments sections and let us see them? You harangue them for being anonymous, but then you shut down your comments.

And you do know that not a single newspaper in this country will print the names of victims who have filed civil suits, do you not?

I knew of one victim of a pedophile doctor who asked that his name be printed and the paper refused.

February 25, 2011 at 7:40 am
(12) A PATIENT says:

I hope all you little lying S$#$% go straight to Hell and BURN there forever! I was a patient of Dr. Levine from 1980 until 1989. He NEVER did anything inappropriate to me! During this time period I had about 4 physical examinations performed by Dr. Levine, and they were all routine. Dr. Levine helped to get me into the right school so that I could learn. He helped me get into a top rated high school, and then into college. Today, I hold multiple degrees and certificates. The world has lost one of the greatest minds of our time. To the little lying pieces of s*%&: YOU MAKE ME SICK! YOU ARE THE LOWEST FORMS OF LIFE!!

February 25, 2011 at 11:28 am
(13) One of his victims says:

How lucky for you that you weren’t molested by Dr Levine. I wasn’t so lucky and his molestation of me has left deep scars on my emotions so that even today I can’t show affection even to those I love without a sense of fear. Dr Levine was a probably a sociopath and he never once addressed his behavior or the results of his actions, not in this lawsuit or the FOUR previous ones. There may be as many as 4000 victims of his abuse. He shot himself most likely because this time he realized the jig was up, he was going to have to pay for what he did.

Furthermore, I’m surprised that someone who “holds multiple degrees and certificates” would react with the insults and hostility that you have. So you were a patient of his from 1980 to 1989, you say? Did you move to North Carolina when he moved there or did you commute down for your checkups by airplane? Just wondering.

August 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm
(14) Shame on you A PATEINT says:

Shame on you for expressing such vitriolic anger and hatred towards victims of sexual abuse.

Perhaps once the real truth comes out, one of them should track you down and pay you a visit to have a conversation about this.

February 27, 2011 at 10:23 am
(15) Victoria Balfour says:

To one of his victims:

I am so sorry about what happened to you. There is another similar child molestation case involving Dr. William Ayres, a former President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Ayres was arrested in California in 2007 for molesting young boys sent to him for therapy.

Like Levine, Ayres worked at Boston Children’s Hospital in the 1960s. Detectives I have spoken to believe Ayres and Levine knew each other and may have exchanged information about boys.

We have been following the Levine case over at a blog about the Ayres case, run by an Ayres victim. http://Www.williamayreswatch.blogspot.com.

And I agree with you- the person who says he was a patient of Levine’s and then acts like an 11 year old, with personal insults, is suspect.

I am sorry that you didn’t get a chance to face Levine in court but he is in hell now.

February 27, 2011 at 10:24 am
(16) Jill says:

I suspect that “A Patient” may be Dr. Mary Johnson.

February 27, 2011 at 10:31 am
(17) Bill says:

Sadly, pedophilia and outstanding pediatric work are conjoined in this case. Sad, because the former is a disease of the damaged psyche, and it seems this outstanding doctor helped so many troubled minds. A terrible irony. A terrible Achilles heel – and truly a mixed legacy.

February 27, 2011 at 10:47 am
(18) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

“So you were a patient of his from 1980 to 1989, you say? Did you move to North Carolina when he moved there or did you commute down for your checkups by airplane? Just wondering.”

For anyone who doesn’t know, this statement is referring to the fact that Mel Levine practiced at Children’s Hospital Boston from 1966 to 1985, and then moved his practice to North Carolina in 1985. He voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine in 2009, following charges of sexual abuse in 2008.

Previous complaints and lawsuits, including one right after he left Boston, were either dismissed or not acted on because of a lack of evidence.

March 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm
(19) Jon says:

So sad that an accusation implies guilt. Dr. Levine was never convicted of anything.

March 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm
(20) Deep Sounding says:

So sad that those who were molested by Levine will never have the opportunity to look the beast in the eyes in the courtroom.

So sad that their attorney can’t sue to have the carcass to be exhumed so that at least their worry that he will show up again in their lives can be quelled

March 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm
(21) MJ says:

Sad news? That a man who victimized children and scarred them for life was too much of a coward to face the consequences? Perhaps it is sad, would have been much better hearing news that he was beaten to death in prison.

March 11, 2011 at 9:08 am
(22) Equal says:

@Dr. Mary Johnson:

For a “doctor” you sure do not know much about the male prepuce. First things first, it is significantly closer to FGM than you think. Both involve the involuntary amputation of sexual tissue from minors. Also, the foreskin has more than double the nerves than the clitoris. Making it worse – by measure of nerve loss than FGM. Also it is estimated that 100 million women world wide have been “circumcised”. Which is 100 million too many, however, over 700 million men have been mutilated as infants, over 700 percent more victims – and it is 100% legal.

Also your “claim” that uti’s are on the rise with intact children reflects your ignorance and lack of quality information. First uti’s are cured with antibiotics in both boys and girls, not amputation. Second most uti’s are cause by uneducated doctors like you who tell parents to try and retract the foreskin on their infant to clean under with soap and water. Which will cause utis as frequently on a female if soap were to enter the same areas – it causes imbalance amongst the naturally occuring microbial life in those areas.

Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all those who oppose genital mutilation – regardless of sex.

March 12, 2011 at 11:23 am
(23) Jack says:

Thank you so much Equal for pointing out that Dr Mary Johnson is spouting nonsense and showing her ignorance of the harm caused by amputation of erogenous tissue from baby boys.

There is also a need to recognize the abuse and stupidity involved in the continued advice to retract a boys foreskin and clean. Doctors have actually been causing UTIs for 60 years with this very bad advice. What a weird and strange reality where ignorant medical professionals cause harm among natural penis boys. If a parent is smart enough to not cut off parts of their newborns penis, they must then still avoid retraction and infecting by ignorant medical professionals.

March 31, 2011 at 9:30 am
(24) DrMaryJohnson says:

This is a two-part response because the gangs’ all here.

Hello, Victoria. As as been pointed out to you on a number of occasions, the cases of William Ayres and Melvin Levine are two different situations.

You’re still playing the guilt by association card. It might work in the press, but not in Court.

I’ve been to the blog you reference. And, because I do not accept every ugly-mostly-anonymous-until-Levine-blew-his-head-off accusation at face value, I’ve absorbed every manner of personal insult and vitriol.

It’s “sad”, yes?

Comments WERE open on my blog – until I got tired of parsing words with angry “venemous” anons. A friend of mine did a little investigative work on the name provided one of the e-mails I got – and discovered that the writer was a reporter for a Boston paper. So I decided to pass.

And you’re right. I’ve got ZERO use for the North Carolina Medical Board. Despite all of their noble notions on “ethics” they let me swing after I blew the whistle on bad care and saved a baby’s life.

I actually have evidence to prove it, but never mind.

The Board took a dive on the Levine case – with their wishy-washy “no-fault”/no hearing solution – which allowed Levine to give up his license and retire without admitting guilt. It certianly was no “victory” for his accusers – who were not vetted.

According to the portions of Levine’s suicide note that have been made public, he didn’t go to his grave and his Maker saying, “I’m guilty and I cannot live with this anymore.” He went to his grave saying, “I did NOT do this”.

It’s a powerful statement – a dying declaration – and it carries great weight.

March 31, 2011 at 9:33 am
(25) DrMaryJohnson says:

Part Two:

Equal, I stand by my comments/observations on circumcision. Comparing the mutilation of a little girl’s clitoris to the removal of a boy’s foreskin is criminally irresponsible. They do NOT equate. And, why yes, I’m familiar with the notion that antibiotics treat UTI’s – since I’ve been admitting more baby boys with such infections for prolonged hospital stays and resultant radiologic studies.

I don’t tell my parents to retract the foreskin to clean it. And I don’t personally perform circumcisions any more. But hey, don’t let ANY facts get in your way.

April 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm
(26) flower says:

This is truly a sad story for all the children that he has “helped” through his amazing books and lectures. I took the week-long workshop for All Kinds of Minds. His work about learning differences (not learning disabilities) really changed mine and my children’s lives. He was a ray of light in the “generally horrible field of labeling and medicating” style pediatrics. I always thought that he was one of the socially inept people and that is why he understood his patients so well. I hope they are untrue, and I am sorry to all his victims if they are.

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