B.C. priest is not a psychologist, college warns in public safety alert

Father Lucien Paul Larre’s registration with the College of Psychologists of B.C. was cancelled in 2008, and he signed an agreement saying he would not apply for reinstatement.

Father Lucien Larre's registration was cancelled in 2008 in response to concerns about his competence

Father Lucien Larre received a pardon for two criminal convictions in the 1990s. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Lam)

The regulator for psychologists in B.C. is alerting the public that a Catholic priest with a troubled past is not allowed to treat patients in the province.

Father Lucien Paul Larre's registration with the College of Psychologists of B.C. was cancelled in 2008, and he signed an agreement saying he would not apply for reinstatement, according to the college.

But last week, the regulator issued a new public safety notification, alerting the public that the Coquitlam, B.C., priest is prohibited from practising or presenting himself as a psychologist.

"The college recently became aware of information that had been provided to the public and posted online, which had the potential to mislead members of the public into thinking that Father Larre continued to be registered as a psychologist in British Columbia," college spokesman David Perry wrote in an email.

"In the circumstances, the college's board decided that it was in the public interest to direct the issuance of a public notification to clarify Father Larre's current status."

Questions about competence

Larre's licence was first suspended in 2006 after multiple complaints about his competence, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judgment.

He did not respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment Tuesday, but his website asserts that he no longer works as a psychologist.

Father Lucien Larre was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983 but returned it in protest in 2008. (CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Lam)

The priest is originally from Saskatchewan, where he founded an organization that provided homes for troubled teenagers.

In 1992, he was convicted of abusing two of those children. A Regina jury found him guilty of assaulting one girl and administering a noxious substance to another — she testified that Larre had forced pills down her throat as punishment for smoking marijuana.

In court testimony, Larre admitted to using a belt for discipline, explaining, "I used to always try to hit them on the seat, which the Creator has prepared for that purpose."

The jury acquitted the priest on seven charges of assault causing bodily harm and one charge each of indecent assault and sexual assault.

Larre was sentenced to one day in jail and a $2,500 fine, but his criminal record was erased in 1997, after the National Parole Board of Canada agreed to pardon him.

He went on to earn a doctorate in psychology and began practising in B.C. in 1998.

Father Lucien Larre has received much praise and many awards for his work with troubled and addicted adolescents. But he’s also faced many problems including accusations which put him in serious trouble with the law. 53:58

'Threat to the safety of clients'

The college hasn't released much information about why Larre was barred from practice a decade ago, but a few details were made public when the priest challenged the college's decision to suspend him.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brian Joyce wrote that Larre was suspended in 2006 "as a result of unresolved complaints … concerning his competence in connection with the preparation of certain psychological assessments."

After reviewing the complaints, the college's inquiry committee found that "there is a real and serious threat to the safety of clients," the judgment says.

Larre appealed his suspension, but it was upheld in court, and the college says he chose not to appeal.

In the years since he left psychology, Larre has dabbled in the field of medicine. Five years ago, CBC reported that he was offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to a child with severe brain damage, an application of the treatment that physicians said was not scientifically supported.

Larre described himself as a doctor at the time, despite the fact that he does not have medical training.

The priest was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983, but he returned it in protest in 2008, after the honour was extended to famed abortion crusader Dr. Henry Morgenthaler.

With files from the Canadian Press

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About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.