Thursday, January 31, 2013
Canada - Ex-psychiatrist's rabbi calls prison term 'death sentence'
Sentencing arguments concluded late Wednesday afternoon for Aubrey Levin, the former psychiatrist found guilty this week of sexually assaulting three of his male patients.
Levin refused to answer any questions asked by reporters outside of the courtroom.
The judge will sentence Levin on Thursday at 11 a.m. MT.
Levin, 74, who had served in the past as a court-appointed psychiatrist, was originally charged with nine counts of sexual assault.
On Monday the jury returned guilty verdicts on three counts, not guilty verdicts on two counts and was unable to reach a decision on the other four counts, which led Justice Donna Shelley to declare a mistrial on those four.
The court saw video taken by a patient with a hidden camera that showed Levin undoing the man's belt and fondling him.
On Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko told the judge she is requesting a term between six and eight years.
Sopko told the judge the aggravating factors are Levin's position of trust, the vulnerability of victims, and the length and repetitive nature of assaults.
Defence lawyer Chris Archer told the judge his client is guilty of "minor sexual assaults," and asked for an intermittent sentence of 90 days — a jail term only served on weekends.
Archer said Levin's rabbi described him as "loved and greatly respected" and said to send him to prison would be a "death sentence."
Victims offer emotional statements
Following the sentencing submissions, the court heard victim impact statements.
One victim said he turns his phone off and doesn't want to leave the house.
"It's emotionally hard for me to trust anyone anymore," the man told the judge. "I can't sleep, I'm shaky and confused. How could someone with so much power use that power in a way that ruins their life?"
Another victim began crying shortly after he began reading his statement.
"I can't begin to describe the effect Aubrey Levin has had — shame, guilt, anxiety, self-destruction from alcohol and drugs hate and anger for authority figures — seemed hopeless, didn't care about myself anymore," the man said.
The third victim also talked about what life has been like since the assault.
"Levin I am looking right at you," the man read from his statement. "I have suffered mentally, taken pills … [had] thoughts of doing harm to myself — how can someone like me have a normal life?
"[Aubrey Levin] knows how the system works and it's only fair that he gets a taste of that. People like you never change, you are who you are. You took my trust and you abused me with medications. For those who were silenced by fear and intimidation, this is justice for them. I hope he suffers as much as I and everyone else has."
The trial lasted for four months, as Levin's first lawyer tried to have his client declared unfit to stand trial for medical reasons.
Levin subsequently fired his first lawyer, choosing to represent himself, before hiring a second lawyer.
Two weeks before the verdict, a juror was dismissed after she came forward to say, a woman she believed to be Levin's wife had offered the juror a bribe to find Levin not guilty.
A charge of obstruction of justice is pending against Erica Levin.