National

'Dr Shock' jailed in Canada for abuse

Nickolaus Bauer

Justice has caught up with Aubrey Levin, who is accused of human-rights abuse in the South African army.

Aubrey Levin was allowed to practice in Canada despite allegations of abuse of gay South African conscripts. (Sunday Tribune Archives)

Dr Aubrey Levin, known as "Dr Shock" for apparently using electric shock therapy to "cure" gay conscripts during the apartheid era, was sentenced this week to five years jail in Canada after a patient secretly filmed Levin fondling his genitals.

Levin was found guilty on three of nine charges of sexual abuse in a Calgary court in late January.

His offences in Canada came to light in March 2010. The patient, identified only as RB in court, was on probation at the time the videos were taken and had been ordered to see Levin twice a month, reported the Huffington Post.

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.

"It seemed hopeless," RB said in one of three victim-impact statements presented to the court.

"I had nowhere to turn," said the Huffington Post report.

It quoted Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Shelley as saying that Levin (74) deserved an eight-year sentence, but she had reduced it because of his health problems and age.

Levin's extradition
"On one level, I feel may Levin rot in hell and die in jail. On another, I feel that that this is unfinished business," Gerald Kraak, the director of the film Gay Men in the Apartheid Military, told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday.

Kraak called for Levin's extradition and said he should be made to account for his actions in the South African military.

"He is one of many criminals of the apartheid regime who has not accounted for his actions and aspects of that regime that have not seen the light of day," he said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that Levin was guilty of "gross human-rights abuses".

This included the alleged chemical castration of gay men, electric aversion therapy, hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery with a view to suppressing or destroying all homosexual tendencies among gay soldiers.

Kraak claimed the full extent of Levin's actions were never uncovered after army records were "destroyed".

"We do not know how many gay men were affected. It is not so much a question of whether Levin has seen justice, but what actually happened? How many lives were destroyed? And who else, still at liberty, is involved?"

Human-rights abuses
Levin arrived in Canada in 1995, saying that he had left South Africa because of the high crime rate.

He managed to suppress public discussion of his past by threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it and said electric-shock therapy was a standard "treatment" for gay people at the time and those subjected to it did so voluntarily.

It remains unclear, however, why Levin was allowed to practice medicine in Canada when he was the subject of allegations of human-rights abuses in South Africa.

"There is some information we are not allowed to disclose because of existing privacy legislation," said Kelly Eby, the director of communication for the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta.

Levin was registered as a physician by the college in August 1998 and practiced until mid-2010, when allegations of sexual abuse of patients were first raised publicly by his Canadian patients.

According to Eby, before the college registers a physician, a thorough review of the physician's education, postgraduate training and disciplinary history is undertaken.

"Each applicant is also required to request that certificates of professional conduct be sent directly to us from every jurisdiction that they report they have ever held a licence to practice or train in," she said.

"Before making a final decision on registration, the college will often seek additional details from the physician and/or the regulatory body if the physician was disciplined."

Eby would not confirm whether  Levin's professional conduct records from South Africa reflected any of the allegations of abuse, owing to confidentiality.


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