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Posts for February, 2013

Canadian Ex-Gay “Shock Doc” Therapist Sentenced To Prison For Sexually Assaulting Patients

Jim Burroway

February 5th, 2013
Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody, 2010.

Aubry Levin, 74, a South African national who relocated to Calgary, Canada in order to resume his ex-gay therapy in the post-Appartheid era, has been sentenced to five years in prison for fondling his male patients. His wife, Erica, was also charged with “defeating the ends of justice” for trying to bribe a juror in her husband’s case.

“Your patients came to you for help. Instead, you were responsible for creating more problems. This was a horrible violation of trust,” court of queen’s bench Justice Donna Shelley told Levin during sentencing.

Levin was found guilty on three of nine charges against him. His Canadian offences came to light in March 2010 when the original complainant showed two videos, taken on a spy camera, which showed Levin fondling his genitals.

Longtime BTB readers may recall that when Levin was first arrested in 2010, his work for the South African military during the apartheid era drew considerable attention. In the 1980s, electric shock therapies had mostly come to an end throughout the world, but it was still employed in apartheid South Africa right up until the fall of the regime. Levin was one of the more notorious practitioners in South Africa , so much so that he was known as “Dr. Shock”:

Among the allegations levelled at Levin was that he used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals. “Political deviants” who refused to bear arms in the apartheid forces were also referred to Levin, who commanded the major psychiatric wing of the military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and rose to become the apartheid government’s head of mental health.

Levin fled South Africa just before its transition to democracy, and settled in Calgary where he became a Canadian citizen. He refused to testify before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where it was alleged he had been guilty of gross human rights abuses. According to South Africa’s The Daily Maverick:

Ward 22 of 1 Military Hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte, near Pretoria, was where he operated. That’s where suspected gays in the army were sent to Dr Aubrey Levin for “treatment”. Levin was positively evangelical about curing homosexuality: in 1968 he wrote to Parliament asking to address its members on potential changes to the laws on homosexuality, noting that he had “treated many homosexuals and lesbians and enjoyed some measure of success in therapy.”

This “therapy” took the form of drugs, electro-shock therapy and hormone treatment. For those who didn’t show signs of responding, it is claimed that chemical castrations or sex-change operations were in store. Most of Levin’s patients were young, white and male, and they were referred to him by military officers, chaplains and doctors.

Once settled in Canada, Levin became an expert witness, performing court-ordered psychiatric assessments of convicted offenders awaiting sentence.

According to press reports at the time of Levin’s arrest, a 36-year-old former patient had been accusing Levin of sexually abusing him, but he couldn’t get authorities to believe him. The break came when the patient went to an appointment with a hidden camera in order to obtain evidence. The videos, which were played in court during the trial, showed Levin undoing the man’s belt and jeans and appearing to fondle him. The patient, identified only as R.B. in court, was on probation and had been ordered to see Levin twice a month. Two other accusers were also patients of Levin’s while under court order.

A support group of former patients has been established online.

Alberta, Canada Shocked To Learn Homosexuality No Longer A Mental Disorder

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2010

The American Psychiatric Association determined some thirty-seven years ago that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. Things move much more slowly in Alberta, Canada, where the province’s public health service finally removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic guide.

Electric Shock Therapist Arrested in Canada

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2010
Dr. Louis Max’s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin

Dr. Louis Max’s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin. (Click to enlarge)

At one time, a relatively common method to try to “cure” gay people was to administer painful electric shock aversion therapy. This barbaric method was first used against gay men in 1935, and it continued, by some reports, up through the 1980’s. NARTH recently issued a report defending reparative and other conversion therapies which cited dozens of papers touting the benefits of aversion therapy.

By the 1980’s, most efforts to “cure” homosexuality using the barbaric and punitive method had largely come to an end. But not everywhere. It was still employed in apartheid South Africa right up until the fall of the regime, and one of the notorious practitioners was Dr. Aubry Levin. He was so famous for his use of electric shock therapy that he was known as “Dr. Shock”:

Among the allegations levelled at Levin was that he used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals. “Political deviants” who refused to bear arms in the apartheid forces were also referred to Levin, who commanded the major psychiatric wing of the military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and rose to become the apartheid government’s head of mental health.

Levin fled South Africa just before its transition to democracy, and settled in Calgary where he became a Canadian citizen. He refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where it was alleged he had been guilty of gross human rights abuses. Once settled in Canada, Levin became an expert witness, performing court-ordered psychiatric assessments of convicted offenders awaiting sentence.

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

This past Tuesday, Levin was arrested and charged with sexual assault by Calgary police after a 36-year-old former patient alleged he was abused while under the doctor’s care. The patient reportedly had made complaints before, but couldn’t get authorities to believe him. The break came when the patient went to an appointment with a hidden camera in order to obtain evidence.

So far, it is unclear how many patients Levin handled under the courts. Police are reviewing current and past cases now, looking for further evidence of abuse. He was suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta the previous Friday when the allegations first surfaced, which means that he can no longer practice in that province.

Levin is listed as a clinical professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Calgary, but the Calgary Herald reports that University officials say he is no longer teaching.

Levin will appear in Provincial Court on April 8.