POLITICS

Crown calls alleged sex assault victims of Calgary psychiatrist 'sitting ducks'

01/22/2013 01:27 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - The prosecutor in the sexual assault trial of a Calgary psychiatrist said Tuesday the alleged victims were "sitting ducks" and trusted him as their caregiver.

Dr. Aubrey Levin, 74, is accused of molesting nine of his patients who were ordered by the courts to see him.

In his final arguments, Crown lawyer Bill Wister said there is no proof the patients were jumping on a bandwagon by making complaints against him.

"There's no collusion. They didn't know each other," Wister told the jury. "There's a power imbalance. They are dependant on Dr. Levin.

"They saw him as a confidant and they trusted him much to their detriment."

The allegations came to light in 2010 after one of the patients came forward with secret videos he recorded during court-ordered sessions with the psychiatrist.

The videos, played in court last fall, show Levin undoing the man's belt and jeans and appearing to fondle him.

Levin's lawyer Chris Archer said Monday the witness was a petty criminal who was setting up Levin to pursue a lawsuit and added that what happened was consensual.

The patient, identified only as R.B. in court, was on probation at the time the videos were taken and had been ordered by a court to see Levin twice a month.

The man said he had told authorities about previous assaults and no one believed him, so he bought a spy camera and brought it to his appointments. After Levin was arrested, other former patients came forward with abuse allegations.

"What you're seeing in the videos is sexual assault," Wister said. "If it happened only once it's still an offence."

He said the patients were the last people on earth a psychiatrist would expect to come forward.

The only time the jury heard Levin speak was in his videotaped statement to police after his arrest. The psychiatrist said he was performing medical procedures on patients to help them with sexual dysfunctions.

Wister said such a test would be very unusual and would typically be used on patients with severe spinal shock, citing testimony from a University of Toronto urologist.

"It's my submission to you that none of these nine people were in severe spinal shock," he said.

Levin, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa, was frequently used by the courts to assess people and provide expert opinions at hearings.

He served briefly as regional director for the federal Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon and was licensed in 1998 to practise psychiatry in Alberta.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Shelley is to give her final instructions to the jury on Friday.

The trial, which began in October, has been delayed a number of times.

A hearing was held before the trial began to determine if Levin was mentally competent to stand trial.

Levin then fired his original defence team in early November, represented himself only briefly and then hired Archer.

There were concerns of a possible mistrial because of its length and worries that the jurors wouldn't be willing to continue months past the original end date.