CALGARY - A former psychiatrist charged with sexually abusing his court-appointed patients is acting as his own lawyer after firing his defence team Tuesday.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Shelley told a jury of seven men and five women at Dr. Aubrey Levin's trial that he would be representing himself.
"Dr. Levin has terminated their services," said Shelley.
"It is his right to do so. He will defend himself."
Shelley cautioned the jury not to speculate about the move or to read anything into it.
Levin's former lawyers, Alain Hepner and Maureen McConaghy, had been with him since his arrest in 2010.
The move is unusual, considering a few weeks ago a different jury had to decide if Levin was mentally fit to stand trial.
Psychologists called by Levin's former defence lawyers testified he could not participate in his defence because he has dementia. They also had asked for a delay in proceedings because of what they said were Levin's health challenges, including diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, reduced renal function and chronic back pain.
It was decided Levin was able to go through a trial, but it was delayed last week when he was in hospital and underwent a medical procedure.
Levin, 73, was charged after one of his patients came forward and provided officers with secret videos he recorded during a court-ordered sessions with the psychiatrist. The videos, played in court two weeks ago, show 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 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, nearly two dozen other former patients came forward with abuse allegations. He is on trial for the alleged sexual assault of 10 male patients.
The jury on Tuesday continued watching a four-hour video interview between Levin and a Calgary police detective.
During that interview, while watching one of the patient's spy videos, Levin acknowledges that what he is doing looks like he is trying to get a sexual response from the man.
He explains it is a reflex test to see if there's a reaction. Levin says in the police video that he often used the test with patients that had erectile dysfunction and was shocked at the sex abuse allegations.
"I had no advance warning, especially from the complainant, and I had no advance warning or even inkling over the years."
In the interview, Levin expresses dismay that he would have his medical licence suspended and that the news would be made public.
"This is disastrous," he says.
He tells the officer he is comfortable defending himself for his actions.
"It's not pleasant but the fact remains that most of the time the truth does eventually come out," Levin says.
"I've always believed in the system, if defended well and properly, will eventually allow the truth. And that is my hope and prayer, that that will be the case."
Levin, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa, was frequently used by the courts to assess people and provide expert opinions at hearings. Most of his alleged victims had been ordered to see him by a judge.
Levin served briefly as regional director for the federal Psychiatric Centre Saskatoon and was licensed in 1998 to practise psychiatry in Alberta.
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