Michigan urologist to stand trial on sexual assault charges connected to youth hockey physicals
Jul 26, 2023, 8:52 AM
(Daniel Mears/Detroit News via AP)
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A doctor who authorities say spent two decades providing medical assistance to youth hockey teams in Michigan and Minnesota will stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted patients.
Zvi Levran faces 22 counts of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving 10 former hockey players. He denies any wrongdoing.
Some witnesses testified during his preliminary hearing that ended Tuesday in Farmington Hills District Court near Detroit that the sexual assaults occurred when they were teens and adults.
Each situation had one purpose, which was to “satisfy the sexual desire of the defendant,” said Judge James Brady, who noted that the victims had placed a lot of trust in the doctor.
Defense attorney Jonathan Jones argued in court that solely touching a person’s genitals in a medical setting is not a crime, The Detroit News reported.
Levran, 66, also faces charges in nearby Bloomfield Hills District Court.
He was arrested in October and arraigned in November on multiple criminal sexual conduct charges involving several patients who told police their examinations were in some way connected to youth hockey.
Levran later was charged with more counts of criminal sexual conduct after police received 33 additional tips about the urologist from other Detroit-area communities and from people from California, Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona and Canada who say the doctor abused them when they lived in Michigan.
Some accusers allege that Levran groped their genitals during sports physicals when they were teenagers. One man said that he was asked to strip naked and do jumping jacks, The Detroit News reported.
Another accuser testified that he later saw Levran for a medical issue as an adult and that Levran watched him urinate and stuck an ungloved finger in his rectum.
Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor whose office is handling both cases, issued a statement Tuesday applauding those who testified against Levran.
“I hope their bravery will inspire others to come forward,” she said.
A trial date hasn’t been set in either of the cases, which might eventually be combined.
The role of sports doctors and their interactions with athletes have come under scrutiny in recent years.
Former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison after he admitted to molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years under the guise of medical treatment. He was accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of women and girls.
Former University of Michigan athletes, students and others have said they were molested by a school sports doctor, Robert Anderson. Anderson was director of the campus’ health service and was a physician for multiple sports teams, including the football team. He died in 2008 after working at the university for nearly 40 years.