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Updated: Mon, 08 Jul 2013 16:58:22 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Child porn charges for Toronto prof, ex-adviser to Ont. premier



Child porn charges for Toronto prof, ex-adviser to Ont. premier

A University of Toronto professor who advised Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's transition team is facing five child porn-related charges, including making and distributing child pornography, after an investigation involving New Zealand police.

Investigators with the Toronto Police Service's sex crimes unit arrested Benjamin Levin, 61, at his home near Lawrence Avenue West and Avenue Road on Monday morning.

He is charged with two counts of distributing child pornography, one count of making child pornography and another count of counselling to commit an indictable offence. He is also charged with agreeing to, or arranging, a sexual offence against a child under 16.

A spokesperson in the premier's office told CBC News that Levin's work with the Transition Advisory Team, which helped Wynne move from being an MPP to premier, was completed in early June.

Levin was also a former deputy minister of education under the Ontario Liberals led by former premier Dalton McGuinty McGuinty, serving in that post from 2004-09.

Allegedly visited child exploitation forums

The lead detective on the case, Det.-Const. Janelle Blackadar, told CBC's Steven D'Souza that investigators had been trailing Levin's actions for about a year, and were contacted during that time by New Zealand authorities.

Levin was alleged to have frequented online forums where people discussed child exploitation.

The charge of making child pornography was related to material Levin had written, according to police.

Levin's resume, which is posted online, states that he has been employed at the University of Toronto's teacher's college, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, since April 2007. He is also the Canada Research Chair in leadership and educational change.

Prior to joining U of T, Levin was the deputy minister of education for the Ontario government between late 2004 and March 2007.

In a statement, Education Minister Liz Sandals said she was aware of the "serious allegations" against Levin.

"Dr. Levin's only recent involvement with the ministry has been on contract research projects and guest speaking roles through his capacity as a professor at OISE, work that has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," she said.

Sandals added that the government will not be commenting on the charges, as they are the subject of an ongoing police investigation and are still to be dealt with in court.

Several trips to New Zealand

From 1999 to 2002, he was the deputy minister for the Manitoba government's department of education. He's also worked as a professor in the faculty of education at the University of Manitoba.

Toronto police said they executed a search warrant at Levin's residence this morning but did not release information on any items that may have been seized as part of the ongoing investigation.

Toronto police also thanked the London Police Service and the Censorship and Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand for their help.

Levin has been invited by school districts around the world and in Canada in recent years to deliver keynote addresses on sustainable education, policy and education leadership. Several of those trips have been to New Zealand. In 2010, for instance, he conducted a seminar at the University of Auckland on how to improve schools.

Levin has been remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on July 10.

With files from CBC's Steven D'Souza

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