Belle Meade man arrested on child pornography

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 1:00am

A Murfreesboro school teacher and Metro substitute teacher was arrested on charges of child pornography Tuesday.

Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas and U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough announced the arrest of Louis J. Levine, 52, at his West Nashville home at a press conference.

He is the son of the late Morris Levine, a prominent Nashville attorney and city councilman from 1948 until 1952.

Levine, who has been employed as a Murfreesboro science teacher and Metro substitute teacher is alleged to have provided drugs to teenagers, allowed them to engage in sex in his home or on his property over the past 30 years, and videotaped the activity, according to police reports. He lives on Alton Road, close to the Belle Meade Country Club.

According to law enforcement officials, Levine was placed on administrative leave from the Murfreesboro School System on April 1 after officials there learned he was under investigation. School officials are in the process of terminating his employment.

Levine also had been employed as a substitute teacher for Metro for several years, last working for them on March 26 of this year. He has since been removed from the substitute list.

In the past, Levine also was associated with the Cumberland Science Museum, now known as the Adventure Science Center, 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.

The investigation into Levine started March 25 when Metro Sex Crimes Detective Jeff Wiser received information from a concerned parent. After interviewing a number of individuals, including minors, Wiser was told of a building on Levine's property known as the "Little House." There, teenagers are alleged to have smoked marijuana, consumed alcohol and engaged in sexual activity.

Wiser also was informed that teenagers would have sex in the main house, where one room was known as the "Isolation Chamber." It contained a waterbed with a wooden box over it.

The information provided to Wiser came from present-day teenagers, as well as those who were teens in the 1970s and '80s. They all provided similar information in regard to sex and drug activity at Levine's home. Some of those individuals told of Levine videotaping sexual encounters, while others said they were shown what appeared to be homemade sex videos.

A search warrant was executed on March 31 and officers found that Levine's bedroom was padlocked. Inside, they found an extensive home network that included computers and a significant number of cables running to other locations in the home, including the isolation chamber. They also discovered about 400 VHS tapes and DVDs that appeared to be homemade.

Also seized during the search was a video camera that contained a tape of teenagers engaging in sexual activity. The teenagers have told Metro that they had no knowledge that they were being recorded.

Because the videotape and camera were manufactured in Japan and traveled to the United States as part of interstate/foreign commerce, the federal government has jurisdiction in the case.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court today was based on information from four male teenagers and "several" female teenagers, according to law enforcement.

Serpas and Yarbrough praised both Metro Officers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work on the case and said that the investigation is continuing. They are hopeful that those who may more information on activity at the Levine home will step forward.

"Matters involving minors," Serpas said, "are not easy to investigate. I have a strong appreciation for what these detectives do day to day."

He also wanted to remind the public that the warrant and criminal complaint filed by the government is merely an allegation and not evidence of guilt.