A court extended by six days on Thursday the remand of a senior doctor accused of sexually assaulting his patients, including the alleged rape of a minor, as more women came forward to say they had been his victims.
Five women had already filed complaints against Prof. Arie Levine when the case became public at the beginning of the week, and since then another five have come forward.
Levine, 64, is director of the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit at Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center and practices at a private clinic.
Channel 12 news reported that several other women have been in contact with police but have yet to file a formal complaint. Investigators fear that dozens may have been assaulted over a number of years at the hospital and at Levine’s private clinic under the guise of medical treatments.
Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Christina Hilou-Assad said during the remand hearing that “the reasonable suspicion has grown stronger and spread to other incidents.”
Of the ten complaints, three involved underage girls and include two incidents of alleged rape against a minor and an adult woman, she said.
“There is doubt in my heart whether it can be argued that this is a medical treatment in view of the nature of the complaint,” Hilou-Assad said.
Police revealed to the court that in 2015 Levine was given a warning by a medical commission over his method of conducting examinations.
The initial complaints involved incidents that happened years ago, with the most recent in 2014. The fresh complaints include events that happened in the last year and a half, police told the court.
“The lives of the patients were destroyed,” a police investigator said. “The testimonies point to shocking cases.”
Levine’s attorney, Lior Epstein, told the media that only a proper medical assessment of the claims will clarify if there was any wrongdoing.
“Neither I nor the police have the medical knowledge. At the root of this case is the medical incident and the matter should be examined in depth,” Epstein said. “To understand what happened, in this case, is like trying to understand what is happening in a soccer match when you are outside the stadium.”
During police questioning, Levine entirely rejected the claims of one of his alleged victims and maintained that in all the other cases he was conducting medical examinations and treatments, Channel 12 reported. He further said that there was never any intention to attempt to sexually abuse his patients.
A woman told the Kan public broadcaster that of all the experts she had seen when requiring treatment for an ailment she had, Levine was the only one who asked her to remove her bra as he examined her stomach.
“It was an unpleasant experience,” she told the station and noted that when she told her husband he was also puzzled by the request.
“We didn’t think about it too much but I didn’t go back to him,” said the woman, who was not identified in the report.
With the revelation of the case, “we soon quickly realized that what I experienced was nothing compared to the unfortunate other girls,” she said.
An anonymous senior police source cited by the Haaretz daily on Monday said experts had contradicted the defense claim that Levine’s actions were necessary for treatments.