EDITOR'S NOTE: Contents of this story may offend some readers.
A Murfreesboro City Schools science teacher was charged with producing child pornography after Metro Nashville Sex Crimes detectives and FBI agents served a federal warrant on him Tuesday.
Louis J. Levine, 52, of 133 Alton Road in Nashville, who traveled among Murfreesboro City Schools teaching science, is alleged to have provided drugs to teenagers and allowed them to engage in sex in his home or on his property over the past 30 years, Metro Police reported in a press release. Levine is alleged to have videotaped the sexual activity.
In a press release issued Tuesday, Murfreesboro City Schools Director Marilyn Mathis reported she is recommending termination for Levine following his indictment. He was a first-year science support teacher.
Levine was placed on administrative leave from the Murfreesboro School System April 1 after officials there learned he was under investigation. After his arrest, he was suspended without pay.
“She (Mathis) said that she knew of no unlawful contact with a Murfreesboro school child by Levine,” the school system’s press release stated.
Mathis will notify Levine she will terminate his contract this year and his contract will not be renewed next year.
Before he was employed, the school system conducted a thorough criminal history and background check, including a check for outstanding warrants but no negative information was uncovered. The background check included fingerprints cleared by the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Children’s Services Child Protective Services Division.
Guidance counselors and principals are being briefed to assist any child with concerns.
The police press release stated Levine worked as a Metro substitute teacher for several years. He last worked in a Metro school on March 26 and has now been removed from the substitute list.
He was associated in the past with the Cumberland Science Museum, as well as youth camps and other settings involving children. The alleged victims who have provided information thus far are from Davidson and Williamson Counties.
Sex Crimes Detective Jeff Wiser began his investigation of Levine on March 25 after receiving information from a concerned parent. In the days that followed, Wiser interviewed numerous persons, including minor teenagers, who told of an outbuilding, known as “Little House,” behind Levine’s residence where teenagers would drink alcohol, smoke marijuana and engage in sex, the press release stated.
Wiser was also told that teenagers would engage in sex inside the main house, the press release stated. The teenagers knew one room in the home as the “Isolation Chamber,” which contained a waterbed with a wooden box over it.
Present day teenagers, as well as those who were teens in the 1970s and 80s, have provided similar information in regard to sex and drug activity at Levine’s home, police reported. Some told of Levine videotaping sexual encounters. Others said Levine showed them what appeared to be homemade sex videos.
In a federal affidavit, Metro Nashville Detective Keith Sutherland, who is assigned to the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, stated Wiser received a call from a concerned parent of a minor teenage boy who expressed concern about teens spending time with Levine at his home. Specifically, the parent believed Levine purchased alcohol and marijuana for the teens and use a bedroom for sex.
The parent gave names and contact information for several children spending time at Levine’s home and referred Wiser to Levine’s My Space page.
“Detective Wiser accessed Levine’s My Space page … and was alarmed by the content of the page,” Sutherland stated.
Wiser spoke to a girl March 30 who told him she and other minor teens congregated at Levine’s “Little House” where she witnesses teens drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs, the detective reported. She was aware of sexual activity.
Two brothers talked to Wiser March 13, one a minor and the second one who just turned 18. They told Wiser they used marijuana and drank alcohol in Levine’s “Little House.”
The older brother said when he was a child, Levine “showed him pornography that appeared to be homemade and depicted a video of a male and female,” Sutherland’s affidavit stated. “He believes the male depicted in the video was a 16-year-old acquaintance who frequents Levine’s home.” He recognized the bedroom of Levine’s daughter.
When the daughter was not home, Levine set up the room with mirrors and a box containing pornography, condoms, lubricants and chocolate.
“Minor teenagers would use the room to engage in sexual intercourse, sometimes at the encouragement of Levine,” the affidavit stated.
Wiser obtained a search warrant for Levine’s home March 31 where he obtained evidence and spoke to Levine who told Wiser he picked up a group of boys in Franklin and brought them to his home.
As part of the investigation, an adult male told Wiser between 1977-82 when the male was a teen, he and others spent time at Levine’s home. Behind the “Little House” was a shed with a peephole into the “Little House.”
The man said Levine showed the boys pornographic movies and demonstrated how to masturbate, the affidavit stated. Levine allowed the teen and his girlfriend to have sex and taped their sexual encounter. He provided information about other boys who spent time in Levine’s home.
“He believed that Levine had engaged in sexual activity with at least two of these individuals when the individuals were minors,” Sutherland’s affidavit stated.
A 16-year-old boy told Wiser he was under the influence of drugs at Levine’s home and fell asleep, the affidavit stated. When he awoke, Levine had his hand on his genitals.
Wiser interviewed another adult who was a boy in the mid-1980s who stated there was inappropriate sexual contact between him and Levine and other teens, the affidavit stated.
Wiser talked to Levine Friday who stated he secretly videotaped a boy masturbating in Levine’s bathroom, adding he is “fascinated” with the boy and got in bed with him.
Detective Wiser executed a search warrant at Levine’s home on March 31. Inside his bedroom, which was padlocked, officers found an extensive home network that included computer(s), four monitors, a significant number of cables running to other locations in the home, including the “Isolation Room,” and VHS & DVD players. Officers also found approximately 400 VHS videotapes and DVDs that appeared to be homemade.
Also seized during the search warrant was a Canon camcorder that contained videotape. The tape depicts teens engaging sexual activity. The teens said they had no knowledge they were being recorded.
Because the video camera and videotape were manufactured in Japan and traveled to the United States as part of interstate/foreign commerce, the federal government has jurisdiction in this child pornography case.
“Crimes against children in violation of federal law are an absolute top priority for the Department of Justice,” said Ed Yarbrough, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “My office will continue to work closely with the FBI and local law enforcement to review cases like this and initiate prosecution when warranted.”
“I want to thank the men and women assigned to the police department’s Sex Crimes Unit for their dedication and commitment to very difficult cases such as this one,” Chief Ronal Serpas said. “Matters involving minors are not easy to investigate. I have a strong appreciation for what these detectives do day-to-day.”
The investigation involving Levine is continuing. State charges are expected.
Anyone with information regarding inappropriate behavior by Levine with minors is urged to contact the Metro Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit at 862-7540.
The public is reminded that the warrant and criminal complaint filed by the United States is merely an allegation and not evidence of guilt. Levine is presumed not guilty and is entitled to a jury trial at which the United States would bear the burden of proving the criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.