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Jury in Calgary psychiatrist’s sex assault trial urged to try again for verdict

Former court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Aubrey Levin leaves court in Calgary, Oct. 15, 2012.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The spectre of a mistrial is hanging over court proceedings against a psychiatrist accused of molesting nine of his male patients.

A Calgary judge has ordered the 11-member jury to keep deliberating in the case of Dr. Aubrey Levin. The jury informed Justice Donna Shelley on Sunday night that it had reached an impasse on all nine charges.

"Ladies and gentlemen will you please try once again to reach an agreement?" asked Judge Shelley.

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"You may have already formed an opinion. You should keep an open mind," she said.

"You must not allow yourself to be influenced by extraneous considerations."

A note sent to Judge Shelley by the jury said it could not reach a unanimous verdict.

"Despite vigorous and lengthy deliberations we are unable to reach a verdict on any of the nine charges," said the note.

Jurors said they were not convinced that "further deliberations would help."

The deadlock comes amidst allegations of jury tampering. One juror was dismissed after informing the court she had been approached by a woman and offered an envelope full of cash to find Dr. Levin not guilty.

A charge of obstruction of justice is pending against Dr. Levin's wife, Erica, who has been under house arrest since the alleged encounter.

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Prosecutor Bill Wister expressed his concern about the jury possibly being compromised as he addressed the court Sunday evening.

"One of the serious concerns of the Crown is the alleged actions of the accused's wife," said Mr. Wister.

"There's already been an attempt to tamper with the jury. We are deeply concerned," he said.

"I've never been in a case where there's been an attempt to bribe a juror."

Lawyer Karen Molle has reiterated the defence position that the judge should declare a mistrial.

"The jury has made their decision and nothing further is required from this court," she said.

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Judge Shelley told jurors that she has the power to declare a mistrial, but would not do so without "further thought."

Dr. Levin, 74, is charged with assaulting nine of his court-ordered male patients.

The allegations came to light in 2010 after one of the patients came forward with secret videos he recorded during court-ordered sessions with the psychiatrist.

The videos, played in court last fall, show Dr. 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 Dr. 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 Dr. Levin was arrested, other former patients came forward with abuse allegations.

Dr. Levin said he was only performing a physical examination to test for sexual dysfunction.

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