Monday, July 08, 2013

Case of Benjamin Levin

Case of Benjamin Levin
(AKA: Ben Levin)

Professor, University of Toronto - Toronto, Canada
Canada Research Chair in Leadership and Educational Change - Toronto, Canada
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) -  Toronto, Canada
Former deputy minister of education for the Ontario government  - Ontario, Canada
Harvard University - Boston, MA

Benjamin Levin has been charged with making and distributing child pornography, counseling to commit an indictable offence and an arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16. All the offenses are alleged to have taken place in Ontario.

If you or anyone you know have more information about Benjamin Levin, please contact the Toronto London Police Department.

Table of Contents:

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  1. Toronto professor facing child pornography charges was target of probes in Ontario, New Zealand (07/08/2013)
  2. Child porn charges for Toronto prof, ex-adviser to Ont. premier  (07/08/2013)
  3. Former Wynne adviser Ben Levin faces new child-porn charges  (07/10/2013)

Also see: 

  1. Policies For inclusion on The Awareness Center's Sex Offender's Registry
  2. Listing Alleged and Convicted Sex Offenders

Toronto professor facing child pornography charges was target of probes in Ontario, New Zealand
By Vidya Kauri and Adrian Morrow
The Globe and Mail - July 8, 2013

A highly accomplished University of Toronto professor and former deputy minister charged with crimes relating to child pornography had been the subject of three separate police investigations in Ontario and New Zealand.

Benjamin Levin, 61, had come on the radar of the Toronto Police Service as a suspect some time around the middle of 2012, said Detective Constable Janelle Blackadar of the sex-crimes unit. Last month, law-enforcement officials in New Zealand contacted the Toronto police regarding Mr. Levin.  A database search by Det. Constable Blackadar led her to the realization that Ontario’s London Police Service was also investigating him. London and New Zealand law enforcement agencies had been investigating him since late last year.

The tenured professor, who was named to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transition government after Dalton McGuinty stepped down, was arrested just before 6 a.m. Monday at his north Toronto home. Toronto police have charged him with making and distributing child pornography, counselling to commit an indictable offence and an arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16. All the offences are alleged to have taken place in Ontario.

In court Monday afternoon, the Crown said that more charges could be laid. The court gave the Crown two more days to complete its investigation. Mr. Levin has been remanded into custody until his bail hearing on July 10.

Mr. Levin’s lawyer, Gerald Chan, said that his client is doing “fine” and “anxious to vigorously” defend the charges against him when the case goes to trial.

“What we’re going to argue to the court is that this is not someone for whom bail should be denied,” Mr. Chan said. “He’s in no danger of leaving the jurisdiction, he is in no danger of committing an offence.”

Aside from his professorial role at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Mr. Levin is also the Canada Research Chair in Leadership and Educational Change.

A native of Winnipeg, the Harvard-educated Mr. Levin initially worked for the Manitoba government, rising to become the top public servant in both the ministries of Advanced Education and Education, Training and Youth. The Ontario government recruited Mr. Levin after an international search to serve as deputy minister of education during a key period when Mr. McGuinty was pumping money into the education system and pushing an ambitious agenda meant to raise Ontario students’ academic performance and increase graduation rates. Government sources credited Mr. Levin with successfully implementing these policies, improving literacy and numeracy rates and raising test scores.

He has won top awards for his work in education including the Lieutenant Governors’ Medal for Service to Public Administration in Manitoba in 2004 and the Outstanding Educator of the Year award from the Phi Delta Kappan Toronto chapter in 2010. Phi Delta Kappan describes itself as an international association of professionals interested in public education. Mr. Levin’s leadership helped the province raise test scores and slash drop-out rates, a government source said.

People who worked with Mr. Levin during his time in government described him as popular within the civil service and an easy person to get along with.

“Ben Levin is nationally recognized as a leader in education policy, with a significant record of achievement in Ontario and Manitoba. These charges will be a massive shock to his colleagues across the country,” said Tony Dean, who was the head of Ontario’s public service when Mr. Levin worked there.

Mr. Levin maintained his ties to the government after leaving its employ to work for OISE and joined Ms. Wynne’s transition team this year. The team acted as an advisory body to Ms. Wynne before she was sworn in and during the first few weeks of her administration. The team, including Mr. Levin, would meet regularly with Ms. Wynne, and she would solicit its advice on high-level policy and strategy matters, government sources said.

The University of Toronto, the Premier’s office and the Education Minister’s office all refused to comment on Mr. Levin’s arrest. Liz Sandals, Ontario’s Education Minister, issued a statement to say that Mr. Levin’s work with the ministry has been suspended as a result of the charges against him. Mr. Levin had recently been contracted to work on research projects with the ministry. He also made appearances as a guest speaker.

“I am aware of the very serious allegations brought forward against Dr. Ben Levin,” Ms. Sandals said in an e-mail. “Dr. Levin’s only recent involvement with the Ministry has been on contract research projects and guest speaking roles through his capacity as a professor at OISE, work that has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Mr. Levin also advised the New Zealand Ministry of Education on “education strategy issues” as outlined on his CV, but a spokesperson for the ministry said he does not have a current contract with it. Toronto police said they are not aware if he actually travelled to New Zealand.

Det. Constable Blackadar said the investigation is continuing. There are no other suspects at this time, she said, but that could change after police examine a computer and electronic storage devices that were retrieved from Mr. Levin`s home.

Mr. Levin is a married father and grandfather.

Child porn charges for Toronto prof, ex-adviser to Ont. premier 

Benjamin Levin, 61, arrested after probe involving New Zealand investigators

CBC News - July 8, 2013

A University of Toronto professor who advised Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's transition team is facing five child porn-related charges, including making and distributing child pornography, after an investigation involving New Zealand police.
Investigators with the Toronto Police Service's sex crimes unit arrested Benjamin Levin, 61, at his home near Lawrence Avenue West and Avenue Road on Monday morning.
He is charged with two counts of distributing child pornography, one count of making child pornography and another count of counselling to commit an indictable offence. He is also charged with agreeing to, or arranging, a sexual offence against a child under 16.
A spokesperson in the premier's office told CBC News that Levin's work with the Transition Advisory Team, which helped Wynne move from being an MPP to premier, was completed in early June.
Levin was also a former deputy minister of education under the Ontario Liberals led by former premier Dalton McGuinty, serving in that post from 2004-09.

Allegedly visited child exploitation forums

The lead detective on the case, Det.-Const. Janelle Blackadar, told CBC's Steven D'Souza that investigators had been trailing Levin's actions for about a year, and were contacted during that time by New Zealand authorities.

Levin was alleged to have frequented online forums where people discussed child exploitation.
The charge of making child pornography was related to material Levin had written, according to police.
Levin's resume, which is posted online, states that he has been employed at the University of Toronto's teacher's college, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, since April 2007. He is also the Canada Research Chair in leadership and educational change.
The Nova Scotia Education Department hired Levin to review its school system in 2010. The Levin Report was released in 2011.
Prior to joining U of T, Levin was the deputy minister of education for the Ontario government between late 2004 and March 2007.
In a statement, Education Minister Liz Sandals said she was aware of the "serious allegations" against Levin.
"Dr. Levin's only recent involvement with the ministry has been on contract research projects and guest speaking roles through his capacity as a professor at OISE, work that has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," she said.
Sandals added that the government will not be commenting on the charges, as they are the subject of an ongoing police investigation and are still to be dealt with in court.

Several trips to New Zealand

From 1999 to 2002, he was the deputy minister for the Manitoba government's department of education. He's also worked as a professor in the faculty of education at the University of Manitoba.
Toronto police said they executed a search warrant at Levin's residence this morning but did not release information on any items that may have been seized as part of the ongoing investigation.
Toronto police also thanked the London Police Service and the Censorship and Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand for their help.
Levin has been invited by school districts around the world and in Canada in recent years to deliver keynote addresses on sustainable education, policy and education leadership. Several of those trips have been to New Zealand. In 2010, for instance, he conducted a seminar at the University of Auckland on how to improve schools.
Levin has been remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on July 10.

Former Wynne adviser Ben Levin faces new child-porn charges 
By Michelle Mandel
Toronto Sun - July 10, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Levin is now free on bail, but facing child exploitation charges, he can never be truly free again.

A renowned educator who lectured around the world, had the ear of several high ranking Liberals, a prestigious research chair, even a brother who is ambassador to Cuba; how easily a distinguished life can implode, 61 years of a good name instantly besmirched, with the laying of seven charges that include allegations by Toronto Police that he authored graphic child porn and counselled someone online on how to commit a sexual assault on a child.

Dressed in a blue sports shirt and black pants, the married father of three daughters looked relieved when Justice Fergus ODonnell released him Wednesday on $100,000 bail posted by his two sureties, brother Martin Levin, the former books editor at the Globe and Mail, and Richard Levin, the registrar at the University of Toronto.

A third brother, Matthew, is posted in Cuba where he is Canada’s ambassador.

The Winnipeg native seemed overwhelmed at times, burying his face in his hands, as he listened to his two brothers being questioned as potential sureties during the lengthy bail hearing, which was covered by a publication ban. In the end, the judge agreed he could be released to live under the watchful guardianship of his elder brother, Martin, but he can return home with his wife’s consent once she returns to the city. Outside the court, noted defence lawyer Clayton Ruby said Levin’s wife is currently out of town on a canoe trip.

What a shock awaits the poor woman.

Almost equal to the shock that must have reverberated through academic and Liberal circles after news of his arrest early Monday morning at his home near Lawrence Ave. and Avenue Rd. Levin, currently a tenured professor at U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, was a former deputy minister of education in the Dalton McGuinty government and a former member of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transition team. In a recent CP24 video from Toronto’s Pride parade, he is seen with Wynne, current federal Liberal golden boy Justin Trudeau and former interim leader Bob Rae.

How quickly will they all scurry? There is little more toxic than these kind of allegations.

“I was shocked to hear about these charges through the news on Monday,” Wynne said in a statement late Wednesday. “Insidious crimes like these are absolutely terrifying. The safety and well-being of our children has always been my absolute priority and at no time did I have any suspicion of criminal behaviour. I am confident that the police and judicial system will address these serious allegations.”

Following an international online probe that police said was sparked by undercover child exploitation investigators in New Zealand, Levin initially faced face charges at his first court appearance on Monday: two counts of distributing child pornography and one count each of making child pornography, counselling to commit an indictable offence and agreeing to or arranging for a sexual offence against a child under 16.

Two new charges of possessing and accessing child porn were added at the start of his North York bail hearing Wednesday. In a press release listing the new counts, Toronto Police also said “there may be more victims” and urged people to come forward with any information.

After spending two embarrassing nights behind bars, Levin was released under a long list of conditions: he’s not allowed to access the Internet except at his U of T office through the monitored university server. He is not to use social media or any video or phone messaging. He can’t knowingly be in the presence or communicate with anyone under 16 or be near pools or schools.

Levin has to surrender his travel documents and can only leave the province to visit his elderly father in Winnipeg.

Ruby said his client has made an enormous contribution to the province’s education system and he intends to “work very hard” to prove Levin’s innocence. He returns to court Aug. 8.

A trial is probably at least 18 months away, but even if Levin is eventually acquitted, the damage is already done. The linking of an educator to the alleged abuse of children? There could be no more resounding death knell for a once illustrious career.


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