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June 30, 2022

Former Lower Merion High School teacher pleads guilty to child exploitation charges

Craig Alex Levin, 66, traveled to the Philippines multiple times between 2016 and 2019 to engage in sexual conduct with minors

Investigations Courts
Lower Merion Teacher Guilty Plea Bill Oxford/Unsplash

Craig Alex Levin, 66, of King of Prussia, plead guilty on Wednesday to six charges of child exploitation of minors in the Philippines. According to prosecutors, the retired Lower Merion special education teacher allegedly traveled to the country nine times over three years to engage in 'illicit sexual conduct' with children.

A retired teacher from the Lower Merion School District has plead guilty to charges of child exploitation involving multiple minors in the Philippines, U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero said on Wednesday. 

Craig Alex Levin, 66, of King of Prussia, was first arrested in 2019 by authorities in Cebu, Philippines, after he was seen taking a 15-year-old girl to a hotel room he'd been renting during back-and-forth trips to the country. 

When police searched his hotel room, they discovered handcuffs, women's underwear and a notebook filled with the names of more than 70 underage girls. Police discovered that the notebook also included annotations ranking the girls numerically based on physical characteristics and age. 

At the time, the 15-year-old girl told police that the former educator had paid her for sex on three occasions between 2016 and 2019, offering her $20, chocolate, and a bar of soap. Levin allegedly helped the girl obtain a fake ID to get past hotel security, who had been cracking down on sex trafficking of minors in the city. 

Earlier this week, Levin pleaded guilty to six charges related to child exploitation stemming from his travels to and from the country to engage in sexual conduct with minors, some as young as 12 years old, prosecutors said. 

Romero also noted that Levin allegedly engaged in commercial sex trafficking by brokering the sale of a pregnant minor to an adult sex offender in exchange for money.

"Mr. Levin, someone who worked for years in a position of trust as a teacher, traveled to (the Philippines) and stayed for months at a time in order to prey on children undetected — or so he thought," said Romero. "Our Office, together with our law enforcement partners, works day and night to investigate and track criminals like this defendant, even when they try to hide on the other side of the world. Our message to them with this case is simple: you cannot hide; we will find you and we will hold you accountable in a court of law."

According to court documents, Levin traveled to the Philippines nine times during the three-year period after retiring from teaching. A spokesperson for the Lower Merion school district told the Inquirer in 2019 that Levin was fired in 2007 after a 20-year career working in special education. He was let go after using school internet resources for inappropriate purposes and having performance issues. He worked at both Lower Merion and Harriton high schools. 

Both before and during his travels, he maintained a Facebook account that he used in order to communicate with minors from the Philippines, attempting to entice them to engage in sexual conduct with him when he arrived in the country. 

Prosecutors also discovered child pornography sent to minors from Levin's Facebook Messenger account. 

Levin was extradited to the United States and first indicted on child exploitation charges in February 2020, following an investigation by the FBI alongside Cebu authorities. 

He was later served a separate indictment on minor sex trafficking, distribution of child pornography, and use of interstate commerce facility to entice a minor into sexual activity.