Ex-deputy education minister, jailed for child porn charges, out on parole
By Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun
First posted: Saturday, October 07, 2017 05:54 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, October 07, 2017 10:16 PM EDT
***Warning: explicit language***
His prison sentence runs until May 28, 2018 but that could have been disgraced educator Benjamin Levin you saw walking around in Toronto.
The 65-year-old former Ontario deputy education minister and member of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s 2013 transition team was jailed in May 2015 for sickening and disturbing online child pornography activities.
Levin, it turns out, has been on parole for some time.
That was reported late last week by a group called Parents As First Educators (PAFE), who emailed supporters and posted details about Levin’s release on their Facebook site.
According to Parole Board of Canada documents the group obtained, Levin was granted day parole to a community-based residential facility in Aug. 2016 and full parole on Jan. 10 this year, some 18 months after being sentenced to a three-year prison term.
Levin’s previous lawyers Clayton Ruby and Patrick Barry had no comment on what was in the parole documents, nor did his wife, Barbara, who is mentioned in them.
“I am not aware of anything new and I don’t know if Ben is, either,” she said Wednesday. “I don’t know why are you are doing this now. I mean he’s been out on parole for ages. There is nothing new about any of this. This is like old history.”
Levin, who was a world-renowned educator before his shocking fall from grace, was jailed in May 2015 for creating and possessing child pornography and counselling others to commit a sexual assault.
At the time, Justice Heather McArthur wrote that Levin had a “hidden, dark side” that he had kept the secret from his family and political friends.
That hidden side included visiting chat rooms “devoted to topics of incest and the sexual exploitation of children,” something he’d done for years.
Levin was ultimately nabbed conversing with police officers posing as single moms. He encouraged them to sexually abuse their kids and in some cases shared photos.
In one case, Levin sent photographs to a New Zealand police officer, one showing a “close-up of the face of a crying child, her face smeared with black makeup.” Levin suggested to her the image was “hot,” according to parole board documents. Another photo he sent showed a young female bound and leashed, with a gag in her mouth and Levin commented, “Mmm, so hot to imagine a mother doing that to her girl to please her lover.”
The parole board’s written decision permitting his day parole on Aug. 12, 2016 detailed Levin’s willing and twisted online interactions, noting he had “joined a web site dedicated to child pornography and had conversations with others in a predatory, deviant and sadistic manner.”
The board also noted police discovered 79 files of child pornography on his computers and a word document with 1,750 people “whom you had been communicating online on the subject of subversive sexual interests, primarily related to sexual contact between parents and children.”
In its reasons for denying full parole in at that time, the board expressed “concern” over Levin’s “lack of understanding or insight into the true victims of your offending.”
“You continue to identify your family and social and past political network as victims,” the board decision states. “It was very concerning to the board that you appear to have little understanding that the children in the pornographic images you viewed and shared are the true victims of your offending. That they have been abused sexually, mentally and physically and will bear lifelong scars of this abuse inflicted on them for the sole gratification of people such as yourself.”
At the time of his trial, Levin’s defence lawyer, Ruby, suggested Levin’s “motive was to fulfil his own fantasy,” that he had been role playing and read an apology from Levin.
“I apologize unreservedly. I am deeply ashamed...and appalled every day that my behaviour fell so far below my own standards and previous actions, which led to the loss of my reputation and my livelihood,” Levin said in the statement.
The parole board accepted, as the court did, that Levin experienced and demonstrated remorse. The board also noted Levin was receiving ongoing treatment and counselling, had complied with all aspects of his incarceration plan, had stayed out of trouble in jail and was committed to not re-offending.
“You are considered, using actuarial measures, to be a low risk to re-offend,” and granted day parole.
Five months later on Jan. 10, 2017, having given Levin opportunity to address concerns about his insights into his victims and demonstrate a period of stability, he was granted full parole.
Levin was released with strict parole conditions, including prohibitions against viewing pornography, or even having access to the web. He basically can’t be anywhere near children without supervision by someone who knows about his past, but with supervision can be in the presence of his grandchildren.
The board found Levin had accepted “full responsibility” for his “criminal actions” and credited him with “being pro-active in accessing clinical interventions to address your offending and low risk to re-offend in their reasons.”
The board also noted Levin would return to his home and that he was receiving an “overwhelming amount of family support” from his “wife and two daughters,” who are “fully aware” of his crimes and terms of release.
Ben Levin is home.
Ex-deputy education minister, jailed for child porn charges, out on parole | WAR