CALGARY — Once a prominent forensic psychiatrist tasked with interviewing and writing reports on offenders in custody, Dr. Aubrey Levin is now a convicted sex offender, facing a lengthy prison term.
Levin, 74, who was convicted by a jury earlier this week of sexually abusing three of his patients, was sentenced Thursday to five years.
“Dr. Levin, your actions in sexually assaulting (RB, GP and WG) constitute horrible violations of the trust that these the patients put in you as their psychiatrist,” Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donna Shelley told the offender.
“As a psychiatrist, you knew their vulnerabilities. They have confided in you things they likely had not confided to anyone else. They were entitled to feel safe and supported during their appointments with you. Instead, you exploited them in a predatory and repetitious manner.
“Yes, Mr. (RB), Mr. (GP) and Mr. (WG) had problems long before they came to see you. They came to see you for help for those problems. Instead, you added to their problems. You, as a psychiatrist, would recognize the serious harm that could result from sexual assault on individuals who were already suffering severe emotional and psychological problems — some of whom had already been sexually abused.”
Shelley said Levin deserved eight years, but because of his age and ill health, reduced the sentence on RB from four to 21/2 years, on GP from three to 21/2 and WG from one year to six months.
Levin was found not guilty of two other charges and the jury could not reach a verdict on four other counts.
He will be ordered to provide a DNA sample and be registered as a sex offender for 20 years.
Still to be dealt with is a contempt charge against the offender’s wife, Erica Levin, 69, who allegedly tried to bribe a juror on Jan. 11 by offering a female juror an envelope with cash inside in an attempt to get her to find her husband not guilty.
The wife has been under house arrest and banned from attending court until her husband’s trial was over.
It is expected she will face criminal charges next week for jury tampering. The juror reported the incident to the judge and dismissed as a precaution to not potentially give any appearance of the jury being tainted.
GP, who was sexually assaulted three times between Jan. 2, 2009, and March 5, 2009, appeared greatly relieved by the sentence.
“It’s not just for me, it’s for the victims who have been silenced. “We need justice for them, too,” GP said briefly outside court before declining further comment.
Levin was charged in March 2010 after the original complainant, RB, presented two videos taken on a spy watch camera earlier showing the doctor fondling his genitals. On the March 16, 2010, video, the judge said Levin essentially masturbates RB for about 15 minutes.
Shelley said during her decision that it was clear RB would not have purchased a spy watch video and recorded the last two sessions if there hadn’t been prior assaults. While the Crown says there were about 18 assaults, she would only say that was likely a reasonable number.
RB, who was shackled and in custody for the sentencing hearing because of unrelated criminal charges, could not comment. But in his victim impact statement he read in court on Wednesday, said he has lost several years of his life he’ll never get back.
“I can’t describe the effects Aubrey Levin has had on me,” he told court.
“I can’t describe the emotions of feeling the shame, guilt, anxiety, self-destruction from alcohol and drugs, in and out of jail. I have hate and anger for authority figures I had nowhere to turn. No one would believe me, It seemed hopeless.
The judge, after Levin’s sentencing, gave RB two days in jail for contempt for repeated inappropriate comments he made in court while on the witness stand. She said she was being lenient, because he was also a victim of Levin’s sexual assault, but warned him to conduct himself more appropriately in the future.
RB thanked her and said he was sorry, but was going through a difficult time with a heated cross-examination by defence lawyer Chris Archer.
Archer and co-counsel Karen Molle, who had sought a sentence of 90 days but certainly no longer than two years, said outside court they expect to file an appeal on behalf of Levin within two weeks.
“The sentence is obviously much longer than what we were proposing,” said Molle. “It was based on the facts the justice found in this case.
“(Levin) understands this has been a long time coming and will take the next step. We are in the process of reviewing the judgment and we’ll take the next step fairly quickly.”
Molle said she expects an appeal to be filed within two weeks and the lawyers will seek Levin’s interim bail pending an appeal. She expects him to be in a medical unit in custody in the meantime.
Archer said such a sentence is much different for a 74-year-old man than for a 35-year-old man.
“It’s a tough hit to take at his point in life. As Justice Shelley quite reasonably pointed out, you can infer a lot from a man of his ill health and age. You’re looking at the end of your life and whether or not this is going to be a significant part of it or whether or not you’re going to die in jail. It’s very traumatic.”
Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko, who had sought a sentence of six to eight years, said he and co-counsel Bill Wister were glad the case has come to some finality and were satisfied with the outcome, given all the circumstances in the case that originally was scheduled for about four weeks and took four months.
He called the victims courageous for first coming forward to the police, then testifying in court.
He said he takes no issue with the fact the judge concluded that Levin deserved an eight-year sentence but reduced it by three years because of the offender’s age and ill health.
“The judge said, given his age, five years is a significant period of time,” said Sopko.
Sopko said he will re-evaluate and decide whether or not to pursue the four counts that resulted in a hung jury.
“We’ll have to go back, look at all our options and proceed from there. It’s too early,” said Sopko.