News24

SA psychiatrist held in Canada

2010-03-26 10:19

Pretoria - A former psychiatrist at 1 Military Hospital, who was called before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) regarding his shock therapy for homosexual conscripts, has been arrested in Canada for the alleged indecent assault of a male patient.

Dr Aubrey Levin, 71, was arrested this week after the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) in Alberta province suspended him.

His arrest and suspension were related to allegations that he had repeatedly and over a significant period of time indecently assaulted a 36-year-old patient.

According to reports in the Canadian media, Levin had been a professor of psychiatry at the University of Calgary in Alberta. Since he moved to Canada in the 1990s, he had regularly testified in court for forensic purposes.

Strange methods

The patient who had made the complaint against him had apparently been uncomfortable for quite some time about the procedures Levin used during his consultations.

When he started complaining about it, nobody believed him. He then took a hidden camera to his next appointment, and obtained enough proof for the authorities to take action against Levin.

Levin was regularly asked by Canadian courts to assess people's sexuality as part of court cases. It appeared the complainant was one such patient.

Levin's patient registers were currently being investigated to determine whether other patients might have had similar experiences to those of the complainant. The Canadian police asked Levin's other patients to come forward if they had similar experiences.

Aversion therapy

In the 1980s and 1990s Levin, then a colonel, was the chief psychiatrist at 1 Military Hospital's infamous Ward 22, where homosexual conscripts and soldiers were "treated" with aversion therapy.

This therapy supposedly included electric shocks, chemical castration and the administering of hormones, among other things.

The shocks, for instance, would be used when photos of naked men were shown to the male soldiers, but not when photos of naked women were shown."

The South African Medical Research Council compiled a report in 2000 (which was submitted to the TRC) about the details of this controversial military programme.

Denied allegations

According to this report, some soldiers even had sex change operations, and others were left permanently sterile due to chemical castration.

Many of these patients committed suicide.

At the time, in reaction to the report, Levin denied ever having been involved in sex change interventions, but admitted that he had used aversion therapy.

Regarding Levin's suspension, a CPSA spokesperson said that the organisation's investigation into his activities was being done separately from the criminal investigation, and their findings could lead to a disciplinary hearing.