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Former Ontario deputy minister sentenced over child porn

Benjamin Levin sentenced to three years over three child pornography-related charges


 

TORONTO – A former Ontario deputy education minister who pleaded guilty to three child pornography-related charges was sentenced Friday to three years in prison.

Benjamin Levin, a respected scholar with a close, loving family, “appeared to have it all,” Judge Heather McArthur said in her decision.

“Mr. Levin also had a hidden dark side. Unbeknownst to his friends, colleagues and family, he had become deeply immersed in a deviant and depraved online world.”

Levin, 63, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, making child pornography — a charge stemming from an explicit story he wrote — and counselling the indictable offence of sexual assault. He was originally charged with seven child porn-related offences.

Levin claimed online to have sexually abused his own daughters, but “there is no evidence that he ever had sexual contact with a child,” McArthur said.

She noted that Levin, who kept his head bowed for much of the sentencing, appeared “genuinely remorseful” and was deemed to have low risk of reoffending by the doctor who conducted his psychiatric assessment.

Court has heard Levin used to frequent an online website with numerous chat rooms for the discussion of sexual activities.

Among the people he chatted with were an undercover officer in Toronto, one in London, Ont., and one in New Zealand — all posing as women interested in sexual activities with children.

In one case, he encouraged an undercover officer posing as a mother to sexually abuse her eight-year-old daughter.

At no point did he clarify that it was purely a fantasy, or take steps to find out whether any real abuse was occurring, McArthur said.

“Mr. Levin did nothing to endure that a potentially real, innocent eight-year-old girl was unharmed. To the contrary, Mr. Levin continued to up the ante on the sexual abuse he suggested be perpetrated on the child,” she said.

Levin was arrested in July 2013 when a search warrant was executed at his home. He was a university professor at the time.

His lawyer had sought a sentence of two years in a penitentiary, while the Crown sought up to three years and eight months behind bars.


 
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