A man who once was deputy education minister in Ontario and Manitoba was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for three child-porn related offences. 

Benjamin Levin, 63, was handed a sentence of six months for possession of child porn, 12 months for making child porn and 18 months for counselling to commit sexual assault. 

In her decision, Ontario Court Justice Heather McArthur said Levin, a respected scholar and a father of three, "appeared to have it all."

"Mr. Levin also had a hidden dark side. Unbeknownst to his friends, colleagues and family, he had become deeply immersed in a deviant and depraved online world."

She noted, however, that Levin, who kept his head bowed for much of the sentencing, appeared "genuinely remorseful" and was deemed to have low risk of reoffending by the doctor who conducted his psychiatric assessment.

The court heard throughout his trial that Levin used to frequent an online website with numerous forums for the discussion of sexual activities with children. In some online conversations, Levin claimed to have sexually abused each of his daughters, though no evidence of the abuse ever emerged and all three of his children denied it ever occurred.

It was online that Levin ended up chatting with undercover officers in Toronto, London, Ont., and another in New Zealand — all posing as women interested in sexual activities with children.

The judge also ruled that, for five years, Levin can't go to public parks, pools, daycares and schools unless he's supervised by someone over 21 years of age who knows of his conviction. His use of internet will be limited and he cannot work with children under 16 again. 

He was ordered to provide a sample of his DNA for the sex offender registry and will be registered for life. 

Esteemed academic, politician

At a sentencing hearing last month, Levin's lawyer Clayton Ruby distributed a statement, authored by Levin, that said his client was "truly sorry" for what he had done. At the hearing, Ruby said Levin had received numerous letters of support from colleagues and his family since his arrest. He also pointed out that of the approximately 2,000 pornographic images found on Levin's hard drives only 14 met the standard of child pornography. 

Ruby had sought a two-year sentence for Levin, arguing that his online activities were the result of sexual fantasies.

Levin was arrested in July 2013 when a search warrant was executed at his Toronto home. He pleaded guilty to three charges earlier this year and had been out on $100,000 bail. 

At the time of his arrest, Levin was a faculty member at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. For much of his career in education, Levin was considered one the world's foremost authorities on teaching children and has published multiple texts on the subject.

He previously served as deputy education minister under former Manitoba NDP premier Gary Doer, and also as the dean of continuing education at the University of Manitoba. Levin went on to serve as deputy education minister in Ontario and was part of Premier Kathleen Wynne's transition team in early 2013. 

He also spent time in the Maritimes, having been hired by the government of Nova Scotia to conduct a review of the province's school system in 2010. 

With files from The Canadian Press