Throwback Thursday – Aubrey Levin, Mike Pence & a return of “conversion therapies”

Throwback Part 1: Here’s looking back and catching up on new and old developments. Most of you are perhaps aware by now that last Spring, “Dr.” Levin was released on parole and is now living in a half-way house.

The CBC report (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/aubrey-levin-sexual-assault-parole-1.3483928) states:

Despite being in denial about his sex crimes and displaying a lack of remorse, former court psychiatrist Aubrey Levin was granted day parole and is living in a halfway house.

The Parole Board of Canada granted Levin’s release from prison last October, though it denied the 76-year-old his request for full parole.

The information is contained in a document recently obtained by the CBC.

“You have claimed the victims lied and that the police and the courts ‘had it in for you,'” reads part of the Parole Board’s decision.

Convicted of sexual assaulting three of his patients between 2008 and 2010, Levin was handed a five-year sentence. But it wasn’t until April 2014 when Levin began serving his sentence after the Alberta Court of Appeal denied his bid for a new trial.

All of Levin’s victims were facing charges and ordered by the courts to be treated by the psychiatrist.

“You appear to have little concern for your victims,” according to part of an assessment considered at the hearing. “You are described as manipulative and present yourself as a victim of the system.”

A psychological assessment prepared for the hearing was just as scathing in its findings, though Levin was deemed to be a low-risk to reoffend.

“You were also noted to deny any sexual motive or basis for your sexual offences.”

Levin told the psychologist that he wasn’t aware that what he was doing was a criminal act in Canada as it’s allowed in his home country of South Africa.

Levin kicked out of religious gatherings

There were two incidents during Levin’s time in custody that were of concern to the panel.

During group sessions, Levin was disrespectful to the rabbi, he competed for leadership, was disruptive and got kicked out of the religious gatherings.

One time while waiting for health care staff became concerned when Levin was discussing another inmate’s physical ailment based on his previous offences.

But by the time Aubrey Levin gave evidence at his parole hearing in October 2015, he was able to tell the panel he acknowledged that his “overall attitude towards the victims has evolved over time,” and that he lacked sympathy at the time of the trial.

Levin also admitted that he inflicted “terrible damage” on his victims.

As part of his release conditions, Levin was ordered to avoid his victims and their families, participate in counselling to address his sexual deviance and not to be in a position of authority.

Throwback Part 2: Conversion therapies make a return in the news thanks to new US Vice-President Mike Pence, part of Donald Trump’s cabinet of sociopaths, oligarchs, Wall Street goons and white nationalists. Last year-end the New York Times reported extensively on the connection between Mike Pence and “conversion therapies.” You can read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/us/politics/mike-pence-and-conversion-therapy-a-history.html?_r=0

Excerpt:

Since Gov. Mike Pence was chosen as Donald J. Trump’s running mate in July, he has faced complaints from groups critical of his record on gay and transgender rights, who said he has long been an opponent of the gains made by the L.G.B.T. community in recent years.

Mr. Pence has been particularly dogged by accusations that he is a supporter of “conversion therapy,” the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been discredited by the medical establishment and denounced by gay and transgender groups.

Mr. Pence’s spokesman, Marc Lotter, denied to The Times over the weekend that the vice president-elect supports the practice, saying a past campaign statement had been misinterpreted. But L.G.B.T. groups remain skeptical, pointing to his record of opposition to gay rights as a member of Congress and as governor of Indiana and an approving reference to conversion therapy in the 2016 Republican Party platform.

So, what is conversion therapy, and why is Mr. Pence so closely associated with it?

What Is Conversion Therapy?  The phrases “conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” refer to discredited psychotherapy methods that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Spiritual efforts to accomplish the same goal are sometimes called “ex-gay ministry.”

Conversion therapy has been condemned by a range of groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, which said it was based on the view that homosexuality is a disorder, an idea “that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions.”

Conversion therapy practitioners “often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure,” adding to its harmful effects, the A.P.A. said.

In the past, efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation sometimes involved extreme measures like institutionalization, castration and electroshock therapy, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Today, critics contend that conversion therapy still sometimes includes physical abuse. For example, a New Jersey organization convicted of fraud last year was accused of sexually abusing its clients and forcing them to participate in violent role-play exercises.

Continue reading the main story

CBC’s “The Fifth Estate” tackles doctor/patient boundaries

Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation finally telecast an investigative report on their esteemed series “The Fifth Estate” about doctors who cross the line with their patients.

Titled “Doctors Without Boundaries,” its premise is: When doctors are accused of crossing ethical or legal boundaries with their female patients, why does it take so long for authorities to protect the public – if they act at all? An investigation by Bob McKeown.

The video is available on this link: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2682489042/

If due to some reason, CBC shows cannot be live-streamed in your country, you can watch the report on youtube here:

About time the CBC – which had a few internal scandals of various kinds over the years, most famously its shocking Jian Ghomeshi scandal – aired a report like this.

For what its worth, this blog had once questioned why the Fifth Estate hadn’t already done so – i.e. an investigative report on doctors who cross ethical and legal boundaries such as Levin.

Good work, CBC. Greatly appreciated. Better late than never.

One of the doctors profiled in the documentary is sleazy psychiatrist Stanley Debrowolski. Details from his case can also be read here: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/11/30/psychiatrists-decades-of-sex-transgressions-over.html

Another “dirty doc” is psychiatrist Ravi Shenava. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/01/21/us-psychiatrist-faces-criminal-sex-assault-charges-in-canada-cbc-reports.html

Also featured is Dr. Patrick Nesbitt, who was unethical and abusive toward both his female patients and his wife. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/doctor-faces-criminal-charges-patrick-nesbitt-1.3413645

A must-see documentary. Viewer discretion advised.

Last week, another strange case of a prominent doctor crossing lines was reported in several newspapers in New York. The case of David Newman MD, a highly respected doctor who was accused of ejaculating into the mouth of his semi-conscious female patient. Here are two reports from the New York Times:

“E.R. Doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital Charged With Sexual Abuse of 2 Patients” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/nyregion/er-doctor-at-mt-sinai-hospital-charged-with-sexual-abuse-of-2-patients.html

“A prominent emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan was arrested on Tuesday and accused of drugging, groping and masturbating on a female patient and groping another in separate episodes several months apart, the authorities said. The charges against the doctor, David H. Newman, 45, a proponent of reforms in emergency care who has written widely about improving doctor-patient relationships, describe him targeting young women for abuse when they sought medical treatment.”

And, this:

“Colleagues Express Disbelief Over Arrest of Doctor With Picture-Perfect Life” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/nyregion/colleagues-express-disbelief-over-arrest-of-doctor-with-picture-perfect-life.html

“Dr. David H. Newman seemed to have it all: an impressive post in emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, a prominent and growing public presence as an expert in health care reform, a wife who is a doctor, two young sons, and a gracious home in the New Jersey suburbs. So when he was arrested on Tuesday and charged with sexually abusing two patients under his care in the emergency room, the reaction from his wide circle of colleagues was disbelief.”

 

 

Aubrey Levin’s wife Erica Levin gets conditional sentence for bribery attempt of juror

Erica Levin will receive an 18-month conditional sentence with house arrest and 180 hours of community service for her failed attempt at bribing a juror at her infamous husband’s trial.

All the details are in the following links:

The Calgary Herald with full details: http://calgaryherald.com/news/crime/erica-levin-faces-jail-for-attempting-to-bribe-juror-at-husbands-sex-trial

…..Saying she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression at the time of the incident, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Karen Horner handed the 72-year-old woman an 18-month conditional sentence with house arrest and 180 hours of community service.

Horner called Ms. Levin’s crime “selfish” and “reckless.”

“The emotional distress the juror was put through was no fault of her own,” said Horner. “She said after speaking to Ms. Levin she was in such shock she had to get away from the court house and go home. She reported it to the judge after the weekend.

“I do not accept that trying to bribe a juror is the same as trying to bribe a witness. A juror is one of 12 judges. To single out a juror is the same as trying to bribe a judge.”….(contd. in the above link)

From Global News Canada (contains video): http://globalnews.ca/news/2001222/woman-gets-18-month-conditional-sentence-after-bribing-juror-in-husbands-trial/

From the French CBC Radio-Canada: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/alberta/2015/05/16/001-peine-sursis-erica-levin.shtml

From the English CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/erica-levin-not-going-to-prison-for-trying-to-bribe-juror-at-husband-s-sex-assault-trial-1.3076386

From the Calgary Sun: http://www.calgarysun.com/2015/05/15/wife-of-disgraced-calgary-doctor-escapes-jail-time-after-attempt-to-bribe-juror-during-husbands-sexual-assault-trial

Aubrey Levin’s bid to appeal sex assault convictions denied by Supreme Court

Link below from the CBC which in the last week has been riddled with its own top-star’s scandal, as more and more women are coming out with stories of violent sexualized encounters with the CBC’s former golden boy Jian Ghomeshi. (And yes, it did bring back memories for me of the emails I received last year from the brave women who had written about the public persona vs private conduct of a certain Toronto psychiatrist (not Levin) who also had a gig with the CBC, although for the benefit of fact, I will say that those revelations, though dark, definitely did not involve hitting, slapping, biting or anything that physically hurtful and violent. This is not to minimize the pain suffered or its nature.)

In any case, as in the case of Levin or others in positions of power within their respective fields – it goes to show that smiling, charming, seemingly kind and “intellectual” public personas have little to do with the stark contrasts people may exhibit or possess behind closed doors. The hypocrisy of narcissists.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/aubrey-levin-s-bid-to-appeal-sex-assault-convictions-denied-by-supreme-court-1.2810573

The Supreme Court of Canada has shut the door on a psychiatrist’s request to appeal three convictions for sexually assaulting his court-appointed patients.

Dr. Aubrey Levin of Calgary was found guilty by a jury in January 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

He had asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his convictions, but that request has been denied.

As always, the top court did not give reasons for its decision.

Allegations against Levin came to light in 2010 after (read more)

Levin’s Aversion Project is Salon magazine’s No.2 among the top 10 most evil medical experiments.

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/04/10_of_the_most_evil_medical_experiments_in_history_partner/

Aubrey Levin and the Aversion Project is voted as the second most evil medical experiment in September 4, 2014’s Salon article: “10 of the most evil medical experiments in history:The subjects are often society’s most vulnerable, and the doctors have rarely had to answer for their crimes”

Click on the link below to read the full story. There are a few exaggerations I believe, in the style of writing the article, but the general gist is correct.

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/04/10_of_the_most_evil_medical_experiments_in_history_partner/

Aubrey Levin’s sentence upheld

From Global News, June 24, 2014: http://globalnews.ca/news/1413884/appeal-court-upholds-sentence-in-aubrey-levin-sex-assault-case/:

Appeal court upholds sentence in Aubrey Levin sex assault case

 CALGARY- The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld the five- year sentence handed to disgraced forensic psychiatrist Aubrey Levin.

In January 2013, Levin was convicted of sexually assaulting three men assigned to him as patients through the courts.

On Tuesday, the appeal court denied Levin’s request to have the five- year sentence reduced to two to three years.

Levin launched the appeal of his sentence after the appeal court rejected an appeal of his conviction in April 2013.

Levin had faced other charges but was found not guilty on two counts of sexual assault and a mistrial was declared on four other counts.

_-

More details on the same by Kevin Martin in the Calgary Sun: http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/06/24/dr-aubrey-levins-five-year-sentence-upheld-by-alberta-court-of-appeal

Noting he committed an “egregious breach of trust” and abused his position of power over his patients, Alberta’s top court Tuesday upheld Dr. Aubrey Levin’s five-year sentence.

“We cannot say that the global sentence of imprisonment for five years is unreasonable,” Justice Carole Conrad said, in handing down the court’s unanimous ruling…….

For the rest, follow the link. http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/06/24/dr-aubrey-levins-five-year-sentence-upheld-by-alberta-court-of-appeal

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Aubrey Levin’s Appeal Denied and “Dr. Shock” begins his prison sentence

From the CBC, original story here http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/convicted-court-psychiatrist-aubrey-levin-s-appeal-denied-1.2619311:

Convicted court psychiatrist Aubrey Levin’s appeal denied

Levin found guilty on sexual assault charges for fondling patients

The Alberta Court of Appeal has denied former court psychiatrist Aubrey Levin’s bid to have his convictions thrown out.

He was found guilty of three counts in January 2013 for fondling men who had been assigned to him as patients through the courts.

Levin was given a five-year prison sentence.

With Levin’s appeal dismissed, he now has 48 hours to turn himself him.

“There were arguments about whether or not the Crown should have, for example, gone out and conducted an investigation or the police should have conducted an investigation at the direction of Dr. Levin’s counsel, and that’s not the law,” said Maureen McGuire with Alberta Justice.

“We don’t conduct investigations at the direction of counsel.”

Levin faced other charges. He was found not guilty on two counts of sexual assault and a mistrial was declared on four counts.

From Huffington Post Canada, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/23/aubrey-levin-appeal_n_5199792.html

Aubrey Levin Loses Appeal, Must Turn Himself In

 By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

CALGARY – The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to overturn a psychiatrist’s three convictions for sexually assaulting his court-appointed patients.

Dr. Aubrey Levin was found guilty by a jury in January 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Levin, 75, had asked the Appeal Court last October to dismiss the convictions and order a new trial. He had remained free on bail while the appeal was being heard.

But the court has ruled that there is no merit in any of the appeal arguments raised by Levin’s lawyer.

“The appeal accordingly is dismissed,” writes the three-member panel in a decision released Wednesday.

“We direct that Levin turn himself into custody within 48 hours after the filing of this judgment, failing which a warrant for his arrest will issue.”

The original allegations against Levin came to light in 2010 after one of his patients came forward with secret videos he had recorded during sessions with the psychiatrist.

The patient was on probation at the time the videos were taken and had been ordered by a court to see Levin twice a month. The man said he had told authorities about previous assaults and no one believed him, so he bought a spy camera and brought it to his appointments.

At the time of Levin’s convictions, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on four other charges.

The Crown retried Levin on two of them and last month a new jury was again unable to reach a consensus.

Levin, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa, was frequently used by the courts to assess people and provide expert opinions at hearings.

He served briefly as director for the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon and was licensed in 1998 to practise psychiatry in Alberta.

Levin is no stranger to controversy over his work. He faced heated accusations about his time as a military psychiatrist during apartheid in South Africa, where he earned his degree in 1963.

In the 1970s, he was a psychiatrist at a military hospital where aversion therapy through electric shocks was allegedly used in an attempt to change the sexuality of gay soldiers. Levin is mentioned in a report that aimed to shed light on abuses of gays and lesbians in the military by health workers.

Highly Recommended: On Global News Canada  (includes Global News’ 16 x 9 report on Levin’s crimes in both South Africa and Canada) 

Sex-offending Calgary psychiatrist to begin jail term    Direct Link: http://globalnews.ca/news/1289441/sex-offending-calgary-psychiatrist-to-begin-jail-term/

In French – Radio Canada: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/alberta/2014/04/25/005-aubrey-levin-autorites.shtml L’ancien psychiatre Aubrey Levin se rend aux autorités”

PRISON SENTENCE COMMENCES

Disgraced psychiatrist Aubrey Levin begins prison sentence

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/crime-and-justice/Forensic+psychiatrist+Aubrey+Levin+reports+prison+sentence/9776940/story.html

The lawyer for disgraced former forensic psychiatrist Aubrey Levin hasn’t ruled out taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Levin turned himself in to the Calgary Remand Centre on Friday to begin serving a five-year prison sentence for sexually molesting three male patients.

“We’re considering our options,” defence counsel Chris Archer said afterwards.

Levin would first have to be given leave to go to the country’s top court, and it would have to be of sufficient national interest.

Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said he was advised by city police Levin reported to the holding jail in northwest Calgary at 8:45 a.m., just over an hour before the deadline imposed by the Alberta Court of Appeal in its dismissal of Levin’s appeal on Wednesday.

Parker said he was unaware whether Levin would be taken to Edmonton Institution to be classified or would go directly to another prison.

The prosecutor also hinted there may not be a third trial on two other similar charges, which recently ended in a second mistrial because a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision.

He said he will meet next week with his superiors to discuss the situation. It was always believed that if the three convictions were upheld, the other two would be stayed.

Levin, 74, was convicted of sexual assaults on the three men under his care between 2008 and 2010.

He had been out on bail pending the result of his conviction appeal heard last October, but the Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed all of his grounds for being awarded a new trial and gave him 48 hours to turn himself in or they would have a warrant issued for his arrest.

Chief Justice Catherine Fraser and justices Carole Conrad and Bruce McDonald also dismissed an application by Levin’s lawyers to admit fresh evidence on appeal.

(For the rest of the story – follow the above link)

A fresh breath of some sense of justice at last….very late; but the sweetest feeling is that of having the mask of a hypocrite ripped apart to expose the lies, the lack of ethics and the incorrigible smug narcissism that lay within.