The Double Life of Ben Levin: His depraved online world, and the sting that brought him down
Most people knew Ben Levin as a distinguished U of T professor and former deputy education minister, but behind closed doors he was indulging in twisted fantasies of child abuse and incest
Benjamin Levin dazzled everyone around him. He was the second of four brothers, born in 1952 to a warm, loving, staunch NDP family in West Kildonan, a Jewish suburb of Winnipeg. His father, David, was a dentist; his mother, Dorothy, a nurse. The Levin boys were all smart, but Benjy, as many people called him, was brilliant. In high school, he was editor of a city-wide student newspaper called Youth Beat, and he looked the part in thick black Buddy Holly glasses. He was also student council president, and he appeared on the TV quiz show Reach for the Top, where his team won the provincial championship. He was as charismatic as he was clever, fizzing with the kind of energy and good humour that draws people in.
At 19, Levin enrolled in honours history at the University of Manitoba, where he also sat on the school senate and managed the basketball team. In his first year of university, he used his bright likability to run for the Winnipeg school board. Instead of mailing out pamphlets advertising his campaign, he enlisted 90 other youths to go door-to-door throughout his ward, handing out leaflets and singing his praises. The tactic worked: he was elected as the board’s youngest-ever school trustee.
Levin’s ability to inspire people became his trademark. From his early start as a teenage politico, he positioned himself as someone who cared deeply about reworking Canada’s education system. He worried that race and poverty made for a grossly unfair system when it came to quality of education, and rallied for a more democratic model: the kind that would respect students, he once wrote, “who do not want to conform to the system’s expectations.” After earning his master’s in education from Harvard in 1975 and his PhD from OISE in 1982, Levin joined the civil service in Manitoba. He was quickly disenchanted with the bureaucratic busywork; he thirsted for reform. He fought for policies that would boost graduation rates, especially in disadvantaged neighbourhoods—and he had a way of galvanizing others who also saw themselves as instigators of change.
Everybody wanted to work with Ben Levin. He advised on progressive education systems all over the world. He wrote inspiring books outlining his theories. In 2005, he became a professor at OISE and held the Canada Research Chair in educational leadership and policy. Over the years, he served as deputy education minister, once in Manitoba and twice in Ontario under then–education minister Kathleen Wynne, a fellow OISE grad who found herself impressed by his dedication. In 2013, after she took over as premier, she hand-picked Levin to be on her transition team.
His home life was just as rich. In the late ’70s, Levin married Barbara Wiktorowicz, a fellow Winnipegger and community health worker. They had three daughters, Clare, Anna and Ruth. By all accounts, they radiated the cheerful domestic hum of a close and happy family, their days filled with homework, swimming lessons, family dinners, sleepovers and birthday parties. Levin taught his daughters how to ride their bicycles, played silly games, told stories and sang the kids to sleep at night. As they got older, he instilled confidence and helped them grow into self-assured women. They considered themselves lucky to have a dad like him.
He was the unifying force in his extended family, too. When his mother was too old to host holiday dinners, it was Ben who drew his brothers and their kids together. As his parents grew more elderly, he became their primary caretaker, looking after their finances and their medical needs. He and Barbara would often take in nieces and nephews when they came to town, sometimes for several months at a time.
It seemed like Levin had it all. By 2012, he was making close to 50 speeches a year all over the world, and he turned down as many invitations as he accepted. That fall, he released his eighth book, More High School Graduates, to glowing reviews—the industry magazine Education Canada called it “a convincing call to action.” At OISE, Levin advised doctoral students, making himself available to them at all times, and showing understanding and patience beyond the call. He was, as all his old friends wanted to tell me, both captivating and funny, a power-house academic who’d open a presentation with a joke from The Onion.
But underneath it all, Levin was breaking away from reality. He started spending hours online lurking in sex chat rooms. Eventually, he became an active participant, bonding with other users over increasingly disturbing desires. The man everybody loved to love had a terrible secret: a digital world filled with fantasies of rape, incest and child abuse. A place where, as Levin wrote in one of his chat room profiles, “nothing is taboo.”
The internet has transformed pedophilia from a private pursuit into an alarmingly social subculture. When pedophiles discover websites devoted to child pornography, they take solace in the idea that they’re part of a like-minded community; at the same time, they’re able to convince themselves that there are worse people out there. Online child exploitation started with bulletin board systems—rudimentary chat rooms that allowed pedophiles to upload and view images. Most of them were scanned from European magazines, where child pornography was legal in some countries until the early ’80s. Now the technology has advanced to the point where people store pornographic images and videos on their cell phones, tablets, laptops, flash drives, DVRs and even smart car systems. Kim Gross, a detective sergeant with the Toronto Police Service and the head of the child exploitation unit, told me that if she had the resources, her team could easily make arrests every day.
Bulletin boards have been replaced by a vast network of websites that cater to different users. There are thousands of private chat rooms to discuss fantasies and exchange images. Flickr knock-off sites allow people to upload photos to password-protected galleries. It’s easy to access these online hideaways: anyone can poke around chat rooms to find a mentor, someone who’s interested in the same things. The mentor might ask the newbie to post a child porn image as an open-sesame, then reveal the darknet passwords and security answers that will give them access to the underbelly.
The most popular chat sites are designed to mimic social networking platforms. They often take a hybrid approach: a member can write a profile, post content and have friends, like on Facebook; he can subscribe to certain accounts, like on YouTube; he can favourite a post, like on Twitter. Users can gain status and clout within the network depending on how active they are, the elaborateness of their messages and stories, the quality of their uploaded content, and whether they perform “extras,” like offering to procure children for other community members. The administrators reward those people with special privileges, like chat moderation or membership control. The quest to achieve this status is often as much of an incentive as the content itself.
Ben Levin was attracted to these kinds of social networks. In late 2010, he registered on a self-described alternative sexual lifestyle site that Toronto police call “M,” which includes chat rooms covering child pornography, sex with children, incest with children and youth-related BDSM. Cops use a code name for the site both to discourage people from visiting it and so existing users don’t know the police are patrolling it. Levin created the profile BandB—named for Ben and Barbara (he used his wife’s name without her knowledge)—and peppered his bio with dashes of truth: he was an academic who lived in Canada, he was in his late 50s, he was married with three grown daughters.
The rest was all horrific fiction. He said that he and his wife liked to have sex with children together and claimed they were both interested in chatting with other parents of daughters. Over the next two years, he acquired 144 contacts on the site, many of whom indicated sexual interest in kids, and 29 subscribers who would be automatically updated every time he posted images or stories. More than 5,000 people viewed his profile, and 44 people favourited his posts. He was active on several other sites as well, though they weren’t part of the ensuing police investigation. For Levin, viewing child pornography was a social pursuit, consistent with how he approached the world in general—he was as popular online as he was in real life.
M’s incest chat room quickly became one of Levin’s favourite destinations. He began telling other users that he and his wife had been sexually active with his daughters when they were 12, 13 and 16; anyone under six was too young. He liked to pretend his wife initiated the incest. He told people he wished he’d had a son so he could have had sex with him, too. He hoped that one day his daughters would share their children with him. Eventually, as his contact list grew, Levin oscillated between chatting about his own family and begging for stories from other parents who had abused their children.
Ever the meticulous researcher, Levin kept a Word document cataloguing 1,750 individuals—his contacts on M, plus the people he’d met on other sites and through his prolific use of instant messaging. He noted their usernames, ages and locations, their sexual desires, their children’s ages, and what they liked to do with their children. He also included snippets of text from their chats, presumably so he could remind himself of what they’d talked about. Levin’s sheet served both to keep his ever-expanding list of friends organized and to weed out what he called the “fakes,” a phrase he used to describe people he deemed not genuinely interested in having sex with children—dilettantes whom he believed were there out of curiosity, not desire. Their existence disrupted the fantasy of the depraved world he had created.
Two years into Levin’s online activities, the child exploitation unit became aware of him. They found Levin’s profile through a routine investigation of online chat rooms. He was brazenly transparent about his offline identity: he sent pictures of himself and his family to contacts and bragged about his prestigious career. His chat partners didn’t have to work hard to get him to talk—he directed the conversation. Toronto police quickly figured out that BandB and Ben Levin were one and the same.
When they ran his username through an international database, it popped up. He’d already struck up a conversation with Angela Johnson, a detective constable with the London, Ontario, exploitation unit, who was posing online as a mother of three. During their chat, he bragged about abusing his own children and swiftly connected Johnson with another user so they could have a three-way conversation about what they did to their kids. Around the same time, he also started talking to Russell Joe Gray, a covert Internet investigator in New Zealand. Levin took a special interest in Gray, sending him several images and claiming he had girlfriends all over the world, including one in New Zealand whose 13-year-old daughter Levin had fantasized about. In June 2013, he wrote a story at Gray’s behest that imagined a violent sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl.
The investigators deduced that if Levin was talking to undercover officers, it likely meant he was also chatting with—and possibly counselling—other people with real sexual interest in children. He boasted about all the conferences he was attending and talked openly of trying to secure access to a real child while he was on business trips. He thought he was untouchable—and that’s what did him in. “People on these sites are usually extremely careful,” says Kim Gross. “But Levin was pompous. He was confident. He’d been doing it for a while.”
The Toronto Police Service set up a sting, sending Detective Constable Janelle Blackadar undercover. Blackadar is a blunt, muscular 45-year-old woman who joined the child exploitation unit nine years ago. “I’m not going to lie, it isn’t the easiest job,” she admits. “But if we’re in a position where we can identify an offender and potentially rescue a child, that outweighs the negative.”
Blackadar created a profile on M, posing as a young, single, submissive mother who was sexually interested in her eight-year-old daughter. In Levin’s mind, he was this young woman’s master, slowly but steadily grooming her to assault her child to please him. When Blackadar claimed she’d touched the girl sexually, Levin only encouraged her to continue. According to Blackadar, never once, not even when she expressed hesitation or guilt, did Levin ever say, “Okay, maybe you’re right; we shouldn’t do this.”
“That’s true counselling, not fantasy,” says Gross. “He believed it was happening.”
It was the evidence the police needed to build a case—one that could stand up against whatever expensive lawyer Levin would hire. They prepared a search warrant and tracked Levin’s schedule so they’d know when he was home. It was essential that they obtain all of his electronic devices, especially those he used while travelling. In the early morning of July 8, 2013, just under a year after he’d first established contact with Blackadar, Toronto police raided Levin’s house and arrested him. (Barbara was on a canoe trip in the Northwest Territories with their daughter Anna.) Officers seized three laptops, 11 flash drives, a camera memory card, his smartphone, and an external hard drive that contained 79 JPEGs and videos of child pornography either saved or cached.
Sentencing guidelines divide child pornography into five levels: images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity, sexual activity between children or solo masturbation by a child, non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children, penetrative sexual activity between adults and children, and sadism or bestiality. Levin’s collection spanned all five categories. He was charged with seven offences, including possessing and distributing child pornography, making written child pornography and, most serious of all, counselling to commit sexual assault—his grooming of the undercover Blackadar. Levin’s mug shot from that day shows a man with a grizzled five o’clock shadow and a flat, downturned expression on his face—an important man who looks as though he never thought he’d get caught.
In the days after his arrest, Levin denied everything, and his family formed a protective bubble around him. Two of his brothers—Martin, the former books editor at the Globe and Mail, and Richard, a registrar at U of T—posted his $100,000 bail. Barbara continued to support Ben unconditionally; she said she considered herself fortunate to have such a loving, caring, supportive husband. She insisted he was a good father and someone she’d always felt safe around. But she wasn’t completely blind in her trust: she did speak with her daughters following the news of the charges. Each told her emphatically that Levin had never abused them, and that they would also stand by him. The family reached out to friends and relatives, who reported back with the same assurance—Ben had never done anything to hurt them.
Martin Levin’s public support was particularly surprising. His son Daniel had been sexually assaulted from kindergarten to Grade 2 by a rabbi. In 1993, as a teenager, Daniel had pursued charges and given a statement to police. He was asked to come in a second time a few months later but couldn’t seem to face recounting his abuse again. He killed himself on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. In a 2011 documentary on sex scandals in religion, Martin spoke of the rabbi and of how infuriated he was at the number of people who came to the man’s defence. Of child molesters in general, he said, “These people have developed a kind of persona. I won’t necessarily call it charisma, but they have a kind of force.… They can counterfeit a kind of tremendous leadership. So many of these people seem to be trusted, seem to be regarded as community leaders. This is a disguise of some sort.”
And yet, even after Ben’s arrest, Martin wrote to the court championing his brother’s positive attributes, that he’d always been unfailingly warm, generous and supportive. “What is most puzzling to me,” he added, “is that I have never seen even the faintest indication of anything untoward or inappropriate in his behaviour toward my children, or his own.” Martin’s surviving kids, Adam, Gavriel and Rifka, also wrote a letter, noting the devastating effects that sexual abuse had had on their family—they did not take the subject lightly. Still, they too stood by Ben, though they admitted it was a struggle to reconcile their responsible, loving uncle with his online persona. “We believe this behaviour to have been an aberration of a psychological nature,” they wrote. In letters to the court, his circle of supporters cocooned themselves in euphemistic language. They danced around his predilection for child pornography, referring to it as “these things,” “something like this,” “mistakes” and a “stupid thing.”
The academic world reacted swiftly to the news of Levin’s arrest. The University of Toronto decided it couldn’t have a man charged with child porn offences teaching future teachers how to teach. It barred Levin from campus, refusing his offer to help his doctoral students transition to another advisor. Julia O’Sullivan, OISE’s dean, told Levin his now-former students could choose to interact with him, but he couldn’t meet them on campus. The school couriered his office belongings—books, papers, personal items—to his house. “With OISE’s educational mission with children, and the very wide publicity of this matter,” O’Sullivan wrote, “your continuing presence may have an adverse effect on OISE and its ability to conduct its program.”
Levin’s speaking offers were quickly rescinded. York Region asked him to skip its Quest education conference, where he was to be a keynote speaker; the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents told him not to bother attending their team planning workshop or finishing his article for their fall journal; and he was disinvited from two College of Alberta School Superintendents workshops, plus their leadership conference the following year in Banff. The publisher Nelson Education pulled a fourth edition of his co-authored book Understanding Canadian Schools. At OISE, the student journal ran an op-ed pondering what to think about Levin’s respected body of work, asking: “Can, and should, we separate a person from her or his scholarship?”
For most people, the answer was no. Joan Richardson, the editor-in-chief of the educational policy magazine Kappan and Levin’s long-time editor, was stunned when she heard the news. She immediately called Levin, telling him he couldn’t continue to write for the publication. Levin was gracious and cordial, she told me. “He said, ‘Absolutely, I understand. I don’t know how you could make any other decision.’ ” She paused before her voice hit a low octave of grief. “I like Ben very much. He’s not only an extraordinary scholar. He’s a lot of fun. He’s a really nice, interesting, charming and funny man.”
Many friends and colleagues immediately ceased contact. They were unable to square Levin’s actions with the man they knew. “This is, obviously, a difficult issue for me,” one of Levin’s mentors and co-authors remarked. “I am still working through how to make sense of these events and my relationship with a colleague and friend.” Levin’s former colleague and co-author Jane Gaskell refused to discuss the case or their personal relationship. When I asked if she considered him a friend, she went silent for so long I thought she’d hung up on me. “I mean, yes,” she finally replied. The interview never recovered. Another old friend, the U.K.-based education scholar Ron Glatter, told me, “Levin’s actions will affect the way his very impressive work is regarded, which is extremely sad.”
In the months after he was charged, Levin’s message never wavered: he didn’t do these horrible things. He hired the high-profile defence lawyer Clayton Ruby, the same man who famously won an acquittal for Guy Paul Morin and sat on the Royal Commission investigating Donald Marshall Jr.’s prosecution. Ruby’s team maintained that Levin would fight the heinous charges against him. He was anxious to go to trial, the legal team insisted, where he would plead not guilty. With all the grisly evidence then under a publication ban, he was probably biding his time. He may have assumed his pedigree and cracker-jack lawyer would salvage his career—and his reputation.
In the meantime, Levin had been seeing a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist, where he confessed to his online behaviour. He also attended a sex offender therapy program at Toronto’s Manasa Clinic, an association of forensic health practitioners. His psychiatrist, Julian Gojer, said that throughout his sessions, Levin admitted he’d justified and minimized his actions, deflecting their seriousness by convincing himself no one was really getting hurt.
Slowly but steadily, Levin’s confidence eroded. The evidence was highly damning and his best course of action seemed to be a plea bargain. In early 2015, nearly two years after Levin was first charged, his lawyers announced he’d made a deal with the Crown, pleading guilty to three of the seven original charges against him: making written child pornography, child porn possession and counselling another person to commit sexual assault. “I apologize unreservedly,” he wrote. “I am deeply ashamed of these actions, and highly aware that they have caused a great deal of hurt to many people. I am appalled every day that my behaviour fell so far below my own standards.”
Even after pleading guilty, Levin still seemed determined to project the image of a good guy diverted by a momentary lapse—as if he’d nicked a few cigarettes and fallen in with a rough teen gang. He’d repeat this sentiment to his psychiatrist, in conversation with family and friends, and also, loudly, in his legal defence. His page-long open letter to the court pointed out that only a “small” number of child porn images were found on his computer, that he’d not been charged with having any actual sexual contact with any person, that no victims ever came forward despite an appeal from the cops, and that he had lost his livelihood. He defended his actions by saying he’d been stressed under the weight of his oppressive workload. His mother had recently died, and he was grieving her loss. He came up with excuses to explain away his behaviour. “Many people have done wrong things when they should have known better,” Levin said, promising he’d work hard to redeem himself.
It was a strategic setup for what would become Levin’s bid for a short jail sentence: he had some alarming fantasies, but he’d never intended to act on them. They’d never existed before 2010, he would later contend, and, after treatment, they’d vanished—he was magically cured. Many people in Levin’s life purported to believe the version he put forward, including family, friends and, of course, Levin himself.
Gojer, Levin’s psychiatrist, diagnosed him with “pedophilic interest,” not pedophilia. The scientific community isn’t unanimous on the existence of such a distinction, but some believe that pedophiles are sexually interested exclusively in children while those with pedophilic interest are aroused by adults as well. Gojer noted that Levin’s pedophilic tendencies were interwoven with sadistic impulses. To the experts I spoke with, that combination was particularly troubling, indicating individuals who are aroused by the pain and humiliation of others, who prefer non-consenting, coerced sex, and who want to be violent toward a child.
The majority of modern researchers believe pedophilia is similar to a sexual orientation: it appears at the onset of sexual maturity, it’s developed biologically in the brain, and it can’t be eliminated by therapy or medication (though it can be controlled by both). Every expert I interviewed said the idea that someone would suddenly develop sexual interest in children late in life was highly dubious—akin to a man being gay for five years. They believe it was always there, even if it was repressed.
According to Levin, it was all just an elaborate game of make-believe. “Human existence is full of fantasy,” Gojer told the court. “We are rich, we can go places. We can do anything in fantasy.” But while Levin says he never intended to touch a child, he did speak on the phone with parents who wanted to molest their children, and he met in person with at least one. He had every reason to believe children were getting hurt.
Levin acquired an army of rabid critics, people who believed he was instrumental in developing Ontario’s new sex education curriculum as a grooming manual for child abuse (the Ministry of Education has said he wasn’t involved in its creation). In dozens of letters written to the court, Levin’s opponents urged the judge to sentence him to the maximum jail time allowed, adding that “his perverted sexual attraction to children” had guided his professional life. One New Brunswick man wrote that he was “a creepy little man” and that “anyone with more IQ points than teeth sees [his work] as deliberately and prematurely sexualizing children.”
A group of Levin-haters came to his sentencing hearing in April. At the dingy Finch West courthouse, I spoke to one who told me he had a grandchild in kindergarten. He’d ridden his motorcycle from Niagara Falls that morning and carried his helmet and leather jacket into the courtroom with him. He said he came because he wanted to see Levin go to prison. “That’s where he belongs.”
It was clear the two years since the arrest had been tough on Levin. He appeared crumpled in on himself—embarrassed and tired, but past the worst of the shock. During the proceedings, he scribbled furiously on a yellow notepad, its pages furling as he flipped through them and cross-connected. Every time I looked at his face, he seemed engaged, empathetic and inquisitive. It was the expression that had charmed people the world over.
Thirty-five people wrote character references to the court on Levin’s behalf. Many of them insisted they were still loyal to their friend and colleague, and that he had suffered enough. Barbara wrote that she did not condone what her husband did, but that she believes him when he says he never intended to have sexual contact with a child in real life. The charges ended his professional career and eviscerated his income, she said. In March 2014 his nameplate was removed from U of T—something not done for other retired faculty. “All of this [the loss of his reputation and respect of his colleagues] has been very hard on him,” she wrote. “That was a huge loss for him that strikes at the core of the person he is and what matters to him.”
His daughter Clare’s letter stressed that she had no concerns about her father having a relationship with her own daughter, then a toddler. Ruth wrote about how sorry she knew her dad was, and that he was prepared to work hard to ensure that he never repeated the same mistakes, to rebuild the trust in his relationships, and to make “very dramatic lifestyle changes,” which seemed to mostly include seeking professional help and opening up to his family about his actions and feelings. Anna echoed her sisters, explaining that her father was a hard worker and that lifelong dedication would follow through to his commitment to change. His brother Martin added that Ben was deeply remorseful—that he constantly apologized, even at family events, which he and Barbara continued to hold throughout his time on bail.
In most of his friends’ letters to the court, Levin is depicted as someone who has already paid a price—and someone who still has much to offer the world. Many people mentioned that he has volunteered since his arrest. “We believe society would benefit far more by putting his talents to work serving the education and justice systems,” one family friend wrote. Another said, “I see no point in sending Ben to prison. With his loss of reputation and career he has learned his lesson.”
Dozens of Levin’s esteemed former colleagues also wrote references, including Diane McGifford, a former MLA in Manitoba; John Stapleton, the dean emeritus at the University of Manitoba; Jim Brandon, the director of professional programs at the University of Calgary; Penny Milton, the former CEO of the Canadian Education Association and the past chair of the Toronto board of education; and Scott Swail, the president and CEO of the Educational Policy Institute in the U.S.; as well as academics in Australia, Jerusalem, Wales, California and England, and a member of the Mistapawistik Cree Nation. They all spoke of Levin’s brilliance and contribution to education policy. They grieved the loss of his voice in the field. One went as far as to call him “one of the Three Wise Men of education.”
Levin returned to court for his sentencing verdict at the end of May in a dark suit that appeared oversized on his frame. At one point, as Justice Heather McArthur catalogued the details of his crimes, Levin shook his head back and forth erratically. Referring to Gojer’s diagnosis, McArthur said “he was of the opinion that Levin was on the extreme end of the sado-masochist spectrum as it relates to the sexual abuse of children.” She acknowledged Levin was “a man who is loved and admired by many”—someone who had good support for rehabilitation. She believed he was genuinely remorseful. But she also wanted to send a clear message: denunciation and deterrence. “He more than most would know how horribly, horribly wrong this was,” she said.
The defence had been pushing for a maximum of two years in jail; the Crown for three and a half. McArthur sentenced Levin to three. The police tell me they’re happy with the outcome. “He’s being treated like everybody else who we consider a predator of children,” Blackadar says. Kim Gross takes solace in the fact that she and her team destroyed Levin’s future, that he’ll have to live the rest of his life as a registered sex offender. “I wish you good luck, sir,” McArthur told him as he stood, shakily, his head briefly whipping back to where Barbara and his brothers sat in stunned silence. Another look was spared for Ruby, who clasped his meaty hand on Levin’s shoulder and murmured something quietly. Levin leaned in, responded with a simple “Thank you,” and then placed his hands behind his back for the court sheriff to cuff them. I watched as he stood next to the giant officer, shrunken and defeated. A few seconds later, he was whisked away into a corridor, on his way to prison.
80 thoughts on “The Double Life of Ben Levin: His depraved online world, and the sting that brought him down”
Why do people of stature think because Levin was a popular person within communities etc that he should have special treatment. I think the laws should be changed to keep people like him locked up longer. Good on the judge for giving him the max!!!!!!
Now next is to get rid of the new sex Education program I do not feel comfortable that my grandson should know about anal sex what grade is it again to start grade 2 ?
Oh my we need to get Wynne out!!!!
Ugghh. Try educating yourself, Marya. Here’s a link to the curriculum document: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health1to8.pdf
Read that instead of relying on other people’s misinformation to guide you.
You’ll notice anal sex is first mentioned in the Grade 7 curriculum (not Grade 2), and specifically in the context of talking with a partner about abstaining from various types of sexual encounters until they are older, and talking about the risks of STIs from various types of sexual encounters.
Ignorant parents and grandparents like you are the reason why kids are less informed and subsequently have higher STI rates due to not being taught respect, how to say no, safe sex, and other practical aspects of sexuality.
What drove Levin to the heights of his depravity was his narcissism and hubris. He suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the pathological spectrum.
Boy wouldn’t that be awesome if we could put Wynne and McGuinty in prison . Wynne should get 10 years for being the ugliest Premier ever.
This is a joke. Look at what he really did for education!
The public has seen James…it’s a disaster.
He should have gotten 10 years in prison (no parole eligibility) followed by lifetime sex offender status registration!
I really wish I could find a website dedicated to my fetish. I get turned on by the thought of what happens to guys like Levin if they were to ever make it to the prison’s general population.
A website with pictures and video’s would satisfy my blood lust and might serve as a deterrent for future pedophiles.
It sounds like his family are in denial as to the extent of his depravity and psychopathy. I feel sorry for them.
it makes me so uncomfortable that his grossly overpaid brother at U of T spent 100k (along with his other brother) so bail him out, and that so many academics supported him when these allegations were made public and even after his guilt was found to be true. How can we be sure that he never acted on these urges? Theres no proof but you have to wonder. Also I sympathyize with his family and all but if I were to find out that my father had fantasized and lied about having sex with me and my mother, I probably wouldnt so ardently support him publically. ew ew ew. this whole thing makes my skin crawl.
Wow, Tommy, that comment says a lot more about you than Wynne or McGuinty.
Marya, you should get your facts straight.
Ben Levin sure fits the character traits of a narcissist. I would agree that his personality fits into one of a narcissist at the most pathological level. His arrogance and pompousness did him in and the fact the he initially denied all the charges says something. Not only do I think his family is in denial but I am sure he was too. He thought his prestige and status would be sufficient to safeguard against a prison term…that is the height of his sheer arrogance and inflated self-importance. I hope he is enjoying himself at Milhaven Penitentiary.
Okay let’s read between the lines here and sift through all the sensationalism. Was what Levin did wrong? yes Were the cops doing their jobs? yes.
But how in god’s name is a known illegal cp website allowed to operate with the #’s of people that are intimated in this story. From the looks of it this site is patrolled 24 hours based on the geographic region of the cops that were involved in chatting with Levin (i.e.. when it’s night time here in Toronto, it’s day time in New Zealand). If the FBI is able to shut down illegal sites, why hasn’t this one met the same fate? Perhaps it’s allowed to operate as some type of fishing hole for the police?
I find it infuriating that this is a known illegal site with likely thousands of people doing god knows what,and the cops are aware of it. yet it appears to operate with impunity. The FBI went after the Silk Road which a marketplace for drugs and weapons but they can’t take down this “M” site which appears to be dealing in much worse material?
Thank you for posting this link.This curriculum will save many lives.
The saddest revelation of this article was that Ben Levin’s nephew, Daniel, was sexually assaulted by his rabbi (another figure of authority) from kindergarten to grade 2. Rather than face his abuser and recount the abuse, he committed suicide. Ben Levin had a personal front row seat to the devastation of sexual abuse on children and still he pursed his distorted and deviant lifestyle on the internet. I would like to know if Daniel’s mother is as forgiving.
Black humor aside, there is no deterrent. They would have zero interest in such a website.
Ugly is on the inside, poster-boy.
Can one separate the work from the person? Yes. There are artists, writers, musicians, whose work I admire… But who may be heinous human beings. It does not diminish their work. And he is right in observing that the world of fantasy can be entirely separate from one’s lived reality. Where he went wrong as far as that observation, is that his fantasy was not separate. The article correctly points out: it is impossible to imagine he was unaware that real abuse was happening as a result of his actions. And the greater irony, pointed out by another commentor, that abuse leading to suicide had occurred in his family…utterly beyond the pale, and seemingly beyond comprehension until one remembers that he believed in (rationalized) the separation of his fantasy from reality. And we all do this… but most of us do it in less harmful and more mundane ways.
As someone who attended all the Finch courthouse dates, I can say that one of the best moments was when Levin kept sinking into his chair while the utterly disgusting details of his depravity were read out and addressed. I have no sympathy whatsoever for this depraved monster. Shame on him and shame on those who supported him.
There are those who don’t feel sorry for them but rather feel they were part of the problem. Not in the sense that they actually participated in his depravity but that they continued to support such a monster.
Really wonder what kind of prison life he will lead. Will he be part of the prison’s general population or will he receive special treatment that protects him from the other inmates? Maybe this Toronto Life writer can find out.
Agree completely. Met him a few times when he was deputy minister and he seemed to thrive on the attention and accolades he received.
Unfortunately the reality is that Justice Heather McArthur (like any other court judge) used case law in part to determine Levin’s sentence.
This article doesn’t go into detail regarding the disgusting material found. Not that this should have appeared in the magazine but I just want to let readers know that the graphic descriptions read out in court made those present gasp for air and physically ill. Even the most seasoned reporters in the room couldn’t always hold back their shock and disgust.
Kudos to those in media who came out to cover this horrific case and kudos to the bloggers and members of the general public who came out to show their support for those who often don’t have a voice, the children.
I think that his family were “victims” too so I would be careful not to judge them too harshly. It must have been very traumatic for them to find out about his double life and his pedophilic interests.
I am not surprised by his downfall in the least because he has this sense of entitlement and omnipotence that he was untouchable. He has three years to think about his actions, more likely he will serve only one-third of his sentence so he will be out in one year. The man may be brilliant academically but he is morally corrupt, psychopathic and depraved. I hope he continues to receive psychiatric help upon his release because he will need it.
Those who supported him are living in their ivory/political towers and cannot fathom the utter depravity of his actions. They too are in denial and rationalize that his actions were only a momentary lapse of judgement. Can you imagine if he wasn’t brought down by the sting? He would have continued on with this depraved ways and double life. I hope those years incarcerated will provide Levin with self insight and clarity about his behavior but then again narcissists are hardwired not to reflect on their actions or guilt.
He was first sent to Millhaven Pen for initial assessment.
Thank you for the information.
They don’t put sex offenders in with the general population, the get segregated which doesn’t allow them as much freedom as everyone else. Maybe an hour a day outside their cell.
This nebbish little man certainly fits the profile of a pathological narcissist to a T. Yes I met him at a TDSB conference a few years back and he was brimming with arrogance and swagger. I am sure his arrogance and bravado have no place in Millhaven Pen with all the other thugs given his designation as a pedophile and child sex offender.
A few words about “respectable” people who supported them – it speaks volumes who they are themselves.
How insulting is this libleft ideology of disconnecting person from his actions. Was a Supreme Court Justice Scallia who said that we leave in the world where words lost the meaning? Another great point I recently heard – something was so ABSURD that you have to be an intellectual to believe in it.
How insulting on thinking human is this perverted libleftist’s logic of Levin when he sad “I am appalled every day that my behaviour fell so far below my own standards.” What kind of logical perversion is this? Such logic will proof that white is black and black is white.
May be it’s just me but I completely lost confidence in Ontario education system as a whole. Sex Ed Curriculum created under direction and involvement of Levin.
I think you’re not alone. While people equate Levin directly with the development of the updated sex-ed curriculum or not, I think the details of this case have sickened people enough that they can’t help but lose some if not all confidence in the Ontario system. The buck stopped with him.
You need to understand that these kind of people subscribe to liberal leftist ideology, it’s cultural marxism, or humanistic “religion”. Note the reference in the article that his parents where staunch NDP supporters.
Liberal ideology in general is very permissive, with so called “sophistication” which makes EVERYTHING relative. 40-50 years ago it was just unthinkable to predict that homosexuality will become a norm and perfectly appropriate and healthy behaviour as it is now. But society develops and moves forward, next and obvious step would be legalization of polygamy. Next would be…… your guess is as good as mine…. Thinking and responsible parents need to look carefully at Sex Ed curriculum which will start in a few weeks….
absolutely right, people who find “sophisticated” ways to justify/excuse his actions of course are. These kind of people support Sex Ed curriculum – they philosophically and ideologically are for equitable and inclusive education, they don’t see any age inappropriateness and moral emptiness of this document as an issue.
Brilliant academically? Well, anything and everything he was preaching must be reexamined and looked under the microscope.
How about SEX ED CURRICULUM he was brought in to lead?
It didn’t took long time for journalists to uncover his own emails where he introduced himself to colleagues as being in charge of implementing new equitable and inclusive approach to education and Sex Ed curriculum development.
Liers like you are the reason that society has so many problems.
Please don’t mislead readers of this board, don’t play fool and don’t treat readers of this board as idi ots.
Sex Ed is introducing in positive, equitable and inclusive manner different types of families from Grage 3. They include 2 moms and 2 dads.
ANAL SEX you say???? Curriculum introduces ANAL sex in equitable and inclusive manner, exactly the same as other types of sexual relations between human beings.
This type of sex is mentioned in absolutely the same context as vaginal and oral sex. Do you think that responsible parents are that stupid and don’t clearly see what is it about? Different sexual orientations (homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual) will be presented to Ontario children as not only equally legal, but most importantly equally normal, equally healthy and equally appropriate forms of sexual behaviour – that is my understanding based on our legal environment. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Danger House, I have to admit – don’t have courage even to think of looking what’s in you “inside”.
It’s just a huge web of lies, misleads, twisted and sick logic with which you can justify and excuse next to everything.
Thinking parents need to analyze foundations of Sex Ed Curriculum and what kind of liberal leftist ideology it’s based upon. Is it cultural marxism? Is it humanistic “religion”?
Regardless, now it’s plainly obvious that according to his own emails this monster, former Deputy Minister of Education, was brought in to push the Sex Ed curriculum and implement new equitable and inclusive approach to education of Ontario children.
Was around the same time Cathleen Wynne Minister of Education herself?
Liberal ideologists want to introduce children to the concepts of “consensual” and “safe” sex with complete and suffocating moral emptiness.
Is Gender Identity Theory a given? Is it subject to quite huge controversy? I thought so, especially considering such an outrageous and ridiculous examples like listing intersex as one of six genders. Seriously? Since when anatomical/biological state of the human body became a social construct and a self identification?
Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy is a farce. Rolled out with such great fanfare and then no one was adequately monitoring boards of education to ensure there was compliance. Typical of this government. With no enforcement mechanisms and consequences in place, equity and inclusion is only a dream for many.
I actually talked to quite a few teachers, it’s just appalling what kind of liberal leftist ideology they subscribe to. Must be taught themselves by Mr. Levin in his OISE while he was “teaching teachers” and was a Research Chair.
I have all reasons to believe that we are dealing with systemic problem of leftists liberal ideology forcefully pushed on Ontario children.
OISE was a breeding ground. Maybe it still is but I don’t know.
What do you mean? Are you sarcastic or serious?
If you are serious – downplaying the danger of AIDS and HIV will safe many lives no doubt about that…….
I don’t know what’s needed to correct: what’s wrong with any of what you mentioned between consenting adults? If you’re offended on a religious basis, then judge not, lest ye be judged. If you’re offended on a personal basis, then that’s your own issue, and try to understand that your view may be looked at as a personal prejudice, rather than anything rooted in reason.
Lewarcher, it’s quite scary your apparent deep believe that your position is rooted in reason. You clearly state that 1+1=7. What can I suggest – probably try to learn real science, real biology, real evidence based comparisons between different types of sexual activities and related health risks. I’m obviously not even thinking of getting involved with you on any moral discussions.
But wait a minute, to be realistic I afraid even my first suggestion is useless for people like you.
Mr. Levin is just one example of greying generation 70ies sexual revolution leftists.
Thinking parents need to understand that his Sex Ed Curriculum is based on Gender Identity Theory – liberal leftist ideology that preaches almost complete disconnection between anatomical biological sex of human and the concept of “gender”.
If somebody is not quite sure what I’m talking about please spend a few minutes googling Facebook’s 68 genders. Libleftist ideology at its best pushing full steam ahead…….
All you postings reek of sanctimony and you sound like you are a self appointed moral authority and bully of the world.
Sorry wbg, but I have to admit – read your reply twice and still have no idea what exactly are you talking about. Must be not smart enough I guess…..
Mio Dio you need to get over yourself. Levin is a disgusting pig and should have been sentenced to a longer time in prison, on that we all agree. Using this as a platform to bash your politically unfavoured pet peeves is petty and disingenuous of you.
Derek, you already undermined your position by stating “Levin is a disgusting pig and should have been sentenced to a longer time in prison, on that we all agree…”
Your wrong even right there – I completely disagree with you that he is “a disgusting pig”. I’m confident that he is a human being. Also I can perfectly guess that his time may be fair.
Now let’s go back to business if we can – please state me exactly where you think I’m wrong.
I think this is a case of losing the trees for the woods.
Okay so a prominent man was caught doing some nasty stuff but there appears to be thousands of people with which Levin conversed on these sites. If the police are correct that he could have been counselling actual parents to do these things, then you could have a case of a lot of actual victims out there.
It seems reckless to let these sites operate for the sake of catching the odd bad guy. If the cops truly believe the mantra of “saving even one child”, then why not shut these sites down permanently and not allow even the possible facilitation of these crimes. Shutting down such sites is likely outside the purview of Toronto Police, perhaps even the RCMP, as it would likely fall to the FBI.
To me the fact that there were thousands of people Levin could have made contact with, it just seems irresponsible for the authorities to play games with being coy about these sites with such comments as not identifying the site so as not alert those that use it or discouraging others from visiting these site. If the police know where these sites are, then take them out.
Playing cat and mouse with the odd guy for the sake of making an arrest, makes no sense considering what could be at risk. The authorities do have the means by which to shut down sites just look at the Silk Road and Freedom Hosting on Tor.
I appreciate that you took the time to write such a lengthy and thoughtful reply. With all due respect, I would suggest you obtain a copy of Justice Heather MacArthur’s sentencing document (copies were handed out in the courthouse on the day of sentencing) and read through all the details of the police investigation, the charges laid against Benjy, and the reasons provided for sentencing. It was proven in court that he was counselling so I don’t know why you would say “If [my italics] the police are correct”. The only thing not proven was whether he actually met in Amsterdam one of the mothers (actually an undercover female cop) he was proven to be counselling online in the chat rooms. Police authorities around the world are working hard to take down, as you name them, “the odd guy”, and thank goodness. Even if they can put away one guy, like Levin, then there’s a chance that one child is saved. If sites can be shut down then hopefully that is one of the tools in their arsenal. And by the way, in my humble opinion, and based on what transpired in court, it was not simply just “some nasty stuff”.
In no way am I downplaying the depravity of what went on here, so I’ll gloss over your admonishment of the language that I used above.
My point was if you weigh the probability of having even one kid hurt, why even chance having these sites up and running. The police have in their arsenal the means to take these sites down so why waste the time playing undercover cat and mouse when you can just nuke the site so that this activity doesn’t occur in the first place.
My comment about “if the police are correct” referred to the fact that the police eluded to the possibility that he may have made contact with actual parents intent on hurting their own kids.
Thank you for the clarification, much appreciated, truly, and wish I could address your point with more authority. If these sites can be taken down, then why not, for sure. During the trial I spoke once with Toronto Police Detective Constable Janelle Blackadar. Sure wish I could have asked her about this.
It would have been interesting to hear what the officer had to say about it. This is why i typically despise the media and the sensationalism that they bring to matters. The substance is usually lost in the flash of the headline.
Here you have a website where there are thousands of people engaged in g-d knows what, yet everyone is focused on one arrest. Why not look into these sites and expose them, the public outrage that follows would be enough to push for action.
Concerned99, I concur with DerekPearce and wbg299 that you reek of sanctimony and arrogance. What part of “get over yourself don’t you understand”? We are not interested in your moralistic, anti liberal bashings.
Dina, please let me thank you first for not calling me so far a bigot, zealot, religious fanatic, homophobe or transphobe – I appreciate it a lot.
You apparently took an issue with my reference to leftist liberal ideology…. sorry about that, no intent to hurt anybody’s feelings but truth bites sometimes does it?
Last time I checked, before being caught Mr. Levin was one of major figures in liberal leftist ideology and liberal equitable and inclusive approach to education. I guess it’s the fact, sorry if it hurts your feelings.
By the way liberals I guess have some good ideas also to be fair.
Very interesting conversation guys!
Just my token – I would guess that taking down the site is not considered (among many other reasons may be….) due to the following. As web reality shows it wouldn’t take long for similar one to pop up somewhere else…..
I guess it has to be concerted and Permanent full scale effort to fight them and actually bring people to justice.
Really looks like this quite horrible issue is largely ignored and underfunded.
Concerned, you may be right about underfunding but I think part of the problem might be that the issue is so huge and always growing. Like you allude to, it’s so easy for new websites to show up even if existing sites are taken down, if that’s possible. There is so much of this kind of horrific activity going on in our own backyard and of course around the world.
So here we are – modern western societies got “hooked” on sexual “freedoms”.
We are facing overwhelming and SYSTEMIC problem within western world.
Ben Levin’s Liberal Sex Ed is just one manifestation of it.
Time to wake up while it’s not (arguably) too late.
Dina, what’s wrong? I completely agree with this message of yours! Who are you anyway?
Well said Dina. Good stuff! Again can’t help but agree with you. Do we have peace now or I touched your sensitivity with my “leftist liberal” references?
On second thought I actually see a great point also in paper_girl’s reply………
In the article the head of the exploitation unit mentions that she has limited resources to make arrests. Okay so with limited resources do you spend efforts going after one user of this site, or do you spend your resources going after the administrators / owners of the site which will have a much bigger positive impact.
What i suspect precludes the latter course of action is some type of grey area of the law, such as safe harbor or the like, which makes its difficult to go after the owner’s of these sites. However, if the aim is to save even one child I think it would warrant any and every effort possible.
Levin’s arrest reminded me that all of us have inner lives that no one else knows. We’d like to think it’s possible to guess who among us is depraved but we’d be wrong – as police and mental health workers involved with sex offenders and sex crimes would surely tell us. I worked with Ben Levin; and liked him enormously. How sad for his family to realize they never knew him. Police who work to catch such people deserve huge commendations. What unspeakably awful, but necessary work they do. Treaties should be passed making such sites illegal the world over.
He didn’t actually commit any physical acts. Although he did encourage others to do it and he saw his own nephew commit suicide because of it. I think the punishment was fair.
Afraid of human nature? There’s a vast difference between acknowledging awareness of dark thoughts, and acting on them. In psychiatry, the distinction between ideation and intent.
Good point, directly related to foundation of Gender Identity Theory – “what you THINK of yourself, your self identification and your thoughts that’s what defining factors are. Not your biological/anatomical state.
Think of it – what a fundamental switch in thinking forcefully pushed by liberal leftists on whole society.
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Spoken like a truly jealous person.
I just went on to this site to post my opinion of this guy that despite all his fancy degrees and academic achievements he is no better than Paul Bernardo, because if Levin caused even one child to be abused, all his accolades are for nothing. Then I saw that many of you think that “leftist, liberal pervert psychopaths” like Levin are the cause of the new Ontario sexEd curriculum, and all that’s wrong with our education system. If even one LGBT youth is helped by the new curriculum then it is good that it is being put into place. Noone wants their children to be shunned, bullied, denied their rights, or even to take their lives because of intolerance and hatred. All these things could happen to your child for a variety of reasons, being LGBT is just one possible scenario. To the person that is afraid that “homosexuality is becoming the norm” that’s not the point of the new curriculum, or any LGBT activist efforts. We just want all youth to be safe, even from the intolerance of their own parents. I have seen many youth, including LGBT youth with tattoos and body piercings and funky hairstyles that would raise eyebrows in most churches, but if parents were shown 2 pictures, one of these was a tattooed and body-pierced young man and the other was a picture of Paul Bernardo, and were asked which of these 2 kids would you allow to date your daughter, 99.9% of you would choose cleaner-than-clean-cut Bernardo. You know you would, because you judge by appearances, that’s what makes you so dangerous.
Why has Cathaleen Wynn not been asked to step down from public office by the Liberal Party, for continuing to support this man, even after his guilty Plea..???? In an election year no less..??
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