As the jury began deliberating on the fate of former court psychiatrist Dr. Aubrey Levin on Friday for charges of sexually assaulting nine patients, his wife remains in hot water for allegedly trying to bribe one of the jurors.
Erica Levin, who had been in court every day for more than three months of the trial, spent two days in remand and the last two weeks on bail under house arrest after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donna Shelley, presiding over her 73-year-old husband’s trial, cited her for contempt.
Shelley reluctantly dismissed the female juror on Jan. 14 as a precaution after the woman wrote a letter to her outlining the alleged bribe three days earlier, then ordered Mrs. Levin, 69, to be arrested.
“This is an extremely serious matter. If proven, it is a serious criminal matter with serious criminal consequences,” the judge said. “We have a juror who has done nothing wrong regarding her oath and instructions.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear we should put a lot of faith in the juror’s oaths and the ability to instruct themselves. The public might think that being offered a bribe — if that is what occurred — the juror could not put it out of her mind.”
The juror told the judge that she recognized the woman, who offered her either $1,000 or $10,000 in a white envelope at the 5th Street LRT platform adjacent to the courthouse in payment for a not-guilty verdict, as having sat in the gallery behind her husband many times in the trial that began in October.
The juror also told the judge the perpetrator said “my husband” at least twice.
Erica Levin was prohibited from attending the courthouse and to not contact any jury member in any way as long as it continues. She was subsequently released on bail by another judge, Justice Ron Stevens, on $25,000 in non-cash surety and placed under 24-hour house arrest until her husband’s trial has concluded.
The trial has continued with the remaining 11 jurors.
City police continue to investigate, have acquired closed-circuit video involving the alleged bribe, and criminal charges could also be laid after Dr. Levin’s trial.
It was the final incident in a trial that has been plagued by numerous delays as a result of more than 20 applications, some by Crown prosecutors Bill Wister and Dallas Sopko but most by defence — Dr. Levin’s original lawyers Alain Hepner and Maureen McConaghy, whom he dismissed, and subsequent counsel Chris Archer and Karen Molle.
The jury was unaware of any of the applications or the alleged bribe, as all happened in their absence and were under a publication ban until they were sequestered.
The trial, which started in late September, has stretched from what was originally to be two weeks long to nearly four months.
Initially, Hepner sought and was denied an application to have the trial adjourned for three months because of the accused’s frail physical health, including heart problems and what was described as morbid obesity.
Then, another jury ruled Dr. Levin was mentally fit to stand trial, despite his doctor’s declaration he has early symptoms of dementia and his wife’s testimony that he is very forgetful of many words and does bizarre things such as walking around with his fly open.
During the trial, defence failed to persuade the judge on four occasions to declare a mistrial and once to remove herself from the case.
Several other applications involved the Crown’s bid to seize the accused’s medical records after he failed to show up to court because he was in hospital.
Levin originally faced a total of charges of sexually assaulting 21 male patients, but 11 of the counts were withdrawn at the preliminary hearing stage and the trial began with 10 counts.
One of those counts was stayed during the trial and the complainant was never called. The other nine complainants all testified.
The key evidence involved videos taken by the initial complainant, RB, who used a wrist watch spy camera to videotape two sessions with Dr. Levin, during which the accused is seen fondling him.
In the final session, on March 16, 2010, Levin fondles RB for nearly 15 minutes.
The accused doctor did not testify in his defence but in a videotaped police interview played in court he claimed he was conducting medical procedures on RB.
It was after he was charged that police released a media statement and the other complainants came forward.