Monday, April 13, 2009

Tennessee teacher filmed kids' sex, police say

Child porn case contains allegations of
teen alcohol, drug use dating to '70s

This from the Tennessean:

Teenagers have gone for decades to a science teacher's Belle Meade-area home to drink and smoke marijuana. Many went to have sex with each other. Few knew they were being videotaped.

Those allegations were detailed in a federal complaint released [last week] charging Louis Jay Levine, 52, with producing child pornography. Police recovered 400 tapes, many with handwritten labels, at his Alton Road home near Belle Meade.

Levine, who holds a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and a master's from Belmont, is a first-year teacher with Murfreesboro City Schools. He traveled through the district teaching science and nature classes to elementary and middle school students. He has been a substitute teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools since 2002, and for many years took snakes and other wildlife to presentations for youth groups and camps...

...The police investigation began in late March, when a concerned parent told a Metro detective that her teenage son and other teenagers were given alcohol and marijuana at Levine's house and allowed to use the bedrooms for sex.

Detectives searched the home March 31 and found an "isolation room" — a waterbed covered by a wooden box with an improvised ventilation system, an outbuilding teenagers called the "Little House" where sex and drug use were common, and a monitoring and recording system hooked up to cameras positioned throughout the property.

Investigators looked at Levine's MySpace page and were alarmed at the content. While they did not elaborate on what alarmed them, the page features a picture of him holding a snake, as well as what appear to be photo comments from several teens...

And this:

Teacher's arrest raises questions about why no one spoke up

In the days since a Middle Tennessee teacher and former employee of several child-oriented organizations was arrested on federal charges of producing child pornography, there is at least one question that looms large.

If Louis Levine really spent three decades doing the things he's accused of, why didn't anyone speak up?

The answer lies in a web of shame, self-blame and societal attitudes toward sex and power. Those who deal with abused children say there's no way for outsiders to understand the emotional trauma a victim experiences. And Levine's neighbors say they didn't feel confident calling police or were criticized when they did.

"How common is this kind of secrecy? In a word: very," said Raquel Hatter, a Nashville psychologist who specializes in sexual abuse...

...Federal authorities charged Belle Meade-area resident Levine, 52, last week with producing child pornography after recovering more than 400 homemade tapes from his padlocked bedroom. If convicted, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 15 years.

The tapes depicted teenagers engaged in sex or masturbation, recorded in Levine's house or an outbuilding in the back yard. To the outside observer, it might seem that any one of the teens could have reported what happened to their parents, school officials or even police. It turns out a clear line linking victimization, investigation and punishment is the exception rather than the rule.

People need look no further than the Catholic Church to understand, said Linda Lebelle, director of Focus Adolescent Services....

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