Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Educator faces kid-porn charges

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BENJAMIN Levin, one of Manitoba's most senior and respected public educators, was arrested in Toronto Monday on child-pornography charges.

Toronto police said in a news release Levin, 61, faces two counts of distributing child pornography, one count of making child pornography, one count of counselling to commit an indictable offence and one count of agreement of arrangement -- sexual offence against a child under 16.

Levin, now a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, was in court in Toronto Monday afternoon. He was remanded in custody until July 10, when he will make a bail application.

"He's anxious to defend these charges and we intend to vigorously do so on his behalf," said Levin's lawyer, Gerald Chan. "What we're going to argue to the court is this is not someone for whom bail should be denied. He's in no danger of leaving the jurisdiction... or committing any offence if he's released."

Chan added Levin was "holding up fine" and had the full support of his family.

Levin is a Winnipeg native who has held top education jobs in Manitoba, including deputy minister of both education and advanced education in the Doer government from 1999 to 2002 and dean of continuing education at the University of Manitoba from 1996 to 1999.

He graduated from the U of M in 1974. Between 1983 and 2004, he held various senior jobs with the province and the U of M before leaving for Ontario, where he was deputy minister of education before taking his current job at OISE.

An aide to Education Minister Nancy Allan said Monday the government would not comment on a matter before the courts. U of M officials did not comment.

Manitoba enlisted Levin to conduct an extensive study of university tuition when the government decided to lift its tuition freeze in 2009.

Toronto police said they arrested Levin Monday after an online, multi-jurisdictional child-exploitation investigation involving members of the Toronto Police Service's sex-crimes unit, child exploitation section. Police thanked investigators in London and New Zealand for their help.

It was Levin who had to implement the controversial political decision to amalgamate school divisions throughout Manitoba, and it was also his job to oversee the post-secondary system after the government froze tuition at 1999 levels.

He has written or co-authored many books about education, including Making a Difference in Urban Schools, an examination of Winnipeg School Division and inner-city Toronto public schools.

This past January, he wrote an op-ed piece for the Free Press, arguing against merit pay for teachers.

He has been a tireless researcher in advocating innovative methods to reduce the rate of high school dropouts.

The Toronto Star reported Monday Levin was a member of Premier Kathleen Wynne's transition team after she won the Ontario Liberal leadership earlier this year and was frequently on social media.

He posted several times on Twitter this weekend, at one point encouraging school boards across Canada to include students on their boards. He has not posted since Sunday evening.

 

-- with files from The Canadian Press

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2013 A3

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