BALTIMORE -- Fanya O'Donoghue had just learned she was pregnant when she happened to meet a group of nurses at a social gathering. She was looking for an obstetrician, and asked them whom they would recommend.
"All six of them said, 'Dr. (Nikita) Levy,' " she recalled.
Even now, after allegations that Levy photographed patients during exams, followed by the doctor's apparent suicide Feb. 18, O'Donoghue can't bring herself to believe those nurses steered her wrong.
For her, Levy is still the kind, dryly funny doctor who drove through the "snowmageddon" of February 2010 when she went into labor with her firstborn -- who shepherded her through her next pregnancy with twins and celebrated their happy deliveries.
"He handed our children to us," said O'Donoghue, 35, who with her husband has three young sons. "I keep thinking this can't be true."
Like others who knew the 54-year-old Levy, O'Donoghue said it was hard to reconcile the warm and caring physician she knew as the same person now alleged to have violated his patients' trust and privacy. While it is not known what kinds of photos and videos Levy took, police say they seized an "extraordinary amount" of evidence from his home 11/2 weeks before he killed himself.
Patients and friends say Levy seemed devoted to his wife, Sandra, a nurse at Hopkins, and their three children. The Jamaican-born New Yorker had moved to Baltimore in 1988, bringing his love of the Yankees with him, and he and his wife were fixtures at their oldest son's baseball games at Friends School in Baltimore, they said.
"Even though they were busy, it seemed they would always make it to his games," said Will Harrington, 26, who graduated from the North Baltimore school in 2005 with Nikita Levy Jr.
"Everybody was pretty shocked by what we read recently. Because everybody in that family is the nicest, most generous," Harrington said. "It just doesn't seem like it is feasible that someone that raised such good kids could do something so fundamentally wrong."
Dr. Levy "was always a super nice guy," Harrington said. "I've had plenty of friends whose parents are doctors or do something in that field. Some kind of come off as standoffish or have that 'I'm better than everyone' mentality. I remember meeting him in high school. He was a nice, normal guy, not ever coming off as better than anyone."