Former Ontario deputy education minister will plead guilty to some child porn charges, lawyer says
By Jen Gerson
19 January 2015
A high-profile University of Toronto professor who has held senior roles in the Ontario and Manitoba governments will plead guilty to some of the child-pornography charges levied against him, according to his lawyer.
Defence attorney Clayton Ruby confirmed Sunday that Benjamin Levin would admit guilt to some of the seven charges he’s expected to face in March, however Mr. Ruby wouldn’t specify which ones. The other charges are expected to be withdrawn.
Mr. Levin was arrested in 2013 amid an international online probe headed by investigators in New Zealand. He was charged with making and distributing child pornography, counselling another to commit an indictable offence and agreeing to or arranging for a sexual offence against a child. He has been free on bail since July 2013.
Mr. Levin, 61, was a deputy minister of education under former premier Dalton McGuinty, from 2004 until 2007. He also served as a member of current Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transition team.
He was the deputy minister of advanced education and deputy minister of education, training and youth in Manitoba between 1999 and 2002.
He is a tenured professor with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), a school connected with the University of Toronto.
The university suspended Prof Levin after he was charged.
“The university understands that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. In this case the gravity of the charges in relation to the mission of OISE is such that Prof. Levin has ceased all university activities at this time,” the university said in a statement released at the time.
Hailing from a notable family, he is the brother of Matthew Levin, Canada’s former ambassador to Cuba, Richard Levin, the registrar at the University of Toronto, and Martin Levin, a former Globe and Mail books editor.
As part of his bail conditions, Mr. Levin was prohibited from accessing the Internet, except when using a monitored server, and from using social media. He was also prohibited from communicating with minors and from being close to schools and recreation facilities like pools.
At the time of his arrest, media reported Mr. Levin appeared to have had some influence over a highly controversial sexual education curricula that was later abandoned by Mr. McGuinty’s government.
The classes would have offered explicit instruction on body parts at an early age, as well as explaining homosexuality to third-graders [eight- or nine-year-old schoolchildren].
Ms. Wynne denied Mr. Levin was ever so influential, noting that curriculum is generally directed by an array of subject-matter experts and is constantly being revised.