Celebrated University of Toronto Education Professor and Highly Regarded Civil Servant Arrested on Child Porn Charges

July 10th, 2013

Via: Toronto Star:

It was a child exploitation investigation that spanned from New Zealand to Canada that included an undercover agent conducting an online chat with a suspect believed to be from Toronto.

On Monday, Toronto police say, that multi-jurisdictional investigation culminated in the arrest of Benjamin Levin, a celebrated U of T education professor and highly regarded civil servant. The child pornography charges stunned colleagues in academic and political circles.

The father of three, who was named to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transition team in January, will “vigorously defend” against the charges, lawyer Gerald Chan told reporters outside a North York courthouse Monday afternoon, following Levin’s arrest.

Investigators in New Zealand made contact with a suspect on an open online forum in January, said Jon Peacock, a senior inspector with a New Zealand internal affairs unit that specializes in online child-abuse investigations.

After several months of sporadic contact, the suspect sent “child abuse materials” to the investigator, Peacock said.

“As soon as that happened, we sent it to our colleagues at Toronto sex crimes,” he said.

Toronto police charged Levin, 61, with two counts of distributing child pornography and one count each of making child pornography, counselling to commit an indictable offence and agreeing to or arranging for a sexual offence against a child under 16.

Toronto police sources say the continued probe “overlaps” with investigations in New Zealand and England.

News of the arrest shocked associates in the academic and political communities between which Levin has split his professional life. He has been an educator, travelling the globe speaking on policy and research, and a public servant, appointed deputy minister for education in Manitoba and in Ontario, under former premier Dalton McGuinty.

Levin was named to Wynne’s transition team after she became leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in January.

He is currently a tenured professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and is the Canada research chair in education leadership and policy.

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