crime file

Psychiatrist Dr. Aubrey Levin Cured Gay Soldiers With Electro-Shock Therapy. And Might’ve Molested His Male Patients Too

Because this is how the world works — at least a world where a leading religious institution would rather children suffer at the hands of priests than turn those priests over to authorities — Dr. Aubrey Levin, the psychiatrist who left South Africa for Canada in the 1990s amidst charges of chemically castrating gay men as part of their “therapy,” was arrested on charges of molesting his male patients.

Having been identified by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission as committing “gross human rights abuses,” he managed to escape much public criticism by “threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it,” reports The Guardian.

But you might know Dr. Levin by his nickname: Dr. Shock. That’s because Levin used electro-shock therapy to cure soldiers in South Africa’s military of their gayness.

So how’d he finally land in so much trouble? “[A] patient secretly filmed the psychiatrist allegedly making sexual advances. Levin, who worked at the University of Calgary’s medical school, has been suspended from practising and is free on bail of C$50,000 (£32,000) on charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting a 36-year-old man. The police say they are investigating similar claims by nearly 30 other patients. The Alberta justice department is reviewing scores of criminal convictions in which Levin was a prosecution witness. … Following the arrest, other male patients have contacted the authorities. One, who was not identified, told CTV in Canada that he had gone to Levin for help with a gambling addiction and alleged he had been questioned about his sex life and subject to sexual advances.”

Oh, and then there’s Levin’s whole alleged history of helping hide South Africa’s apartheid and human rights abuses. And being a general disgrace.

In the 1960s, he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the abolition of laws criminalising homosexuality saying that they should be left in place because he could “cure” gay people. His efforts to do just that in the army began in 1969 at the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria, which ostensibly catered for service personnel with psychological problems. Commanding officers and chaplains were encouraged to refer “deviants” for electroconvulsive aversion therapy.

The treatment consisted of strapping electrodes to the upper arm. Homosexual soldiers were shown pictures of a naked man and encouraged to fantasise, and then the power was ratcheted up. Trudie Grobler, an intern psychologist on ward 22, saw a lesbian subjected to severe shocks. “It was traumatic. I could not believe her body could handle it,” she said later.

One gay soldier claimed to have been chemically castrated by Levin. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was told by investigators that he was not alone. It also heard that at least one patient had been driven to suicide. Levin refused to testify before the commission.