British Columbia

Ex-massage therapist with sexual misconduct history shouldn't be licensed again, former patient says

News that former Vancouver massage therapist Glenn Kukkee is getting his licence back has come as an unwelcome shock to those who've filed sexual misconduct complaints against him.

B.C. College of Massage Therapists says Glenn Kukkee can practise again but will be banned from treating women

Glenn Kukkee has admitted to sexual misconduct on multiple occasions during his time as a registered massage therapist. (Submitted by former friend)

News that former Vancouver massage therapist Glenn Kukkee is getting his licence back has come as an unwelcome shock to those who've filed sexual misconduct complaints against him.

Kukkee was disciplined multiple times for having sex with patients and other inappropriate behaviour before his licence was cancelled at the end of 2020 for non-payment of fees, but last month he filed a court petition asking for an order that he should not be restricted from treating female patients when the College of Massage Therapists of B.C. reinstates his registration.

The college has agreed to allow him to practise again, but on the advice of a psychiatrist who examined him, he will never be allowed to treat female patients again. Kukkee's petition argues he has a plan for ensuring he maintains appropriate boundaries with his patients, eliminating any risk to women.

A former patient who was a target of Kukkee's sexual misconduct was alarmed to learn that Kukkee would be allowed to treat patients of any gender.

"He's a risk to harm people, as he has done in the past multiple times and shown no remorse," said the former patient, whom CBC has agreed not to name.

"Something needs to be done to stop him. We are now at a crossroads where the authorities have the leverage to do so."

The complainant recently made the same arguments in an email to the college, arguing that Kukkee has abused his power on multiple occasions, creating an unsafe environment for all patients.

Kukkee signed a consent agreement with the college in October 2020, acknowledging that he'd entered into a sexual relationship with this patient and that he created backdated records after they filed a complaint, according to an investigation report from the college's inquiry committee.

He admitted that his behaviour amounted to sexual and professional misconduct.

According to public notices from the college, he also admitted to having sex with a second patient, and to "sexualizing the treatment environment" with a third.

As a result, Kukkee's licence was suspended for 17 months, but it was then cancelled at the end of 2020 when he failed to pay his annual renewal fee.

Those admissions followed disciplinary actions in 2015, when Kukkee acknowledged he'd made inappropriate sexual comments during appointments with two patients and sent them unprofessional emails afterward.

'He shouldn't have access to vulnerable people'

He has also been the subject of at least one sexual misconduct complaint from a fellow registered massage therapist who alleged he made inappropriate comments to her in the workplace and acted in a sexual way during massages he performed for her.

The college's inquiry committee dismissed those allegations in 2018, in part because they were co-workers and did not have the same power imbalance that exists between practitioners and most patients, according to an investigation report. The report acknowledges that Kukkee's behaviour was "certainly less than ideal."

The former co-worker, whom CBC has also agreed not to name, said she was appalled by the college's decision in her case and by the prospect of Kukkee being allowed to practise again.

"It scares me that he's trying to get his licence back," she said. "He shouldn't have access to vulnerable people."

She added that even though she is also a licensed professional, she was in a vulnerable position when Kukkee massaged her, and she believes he took advantage of that vulnerability.

An 'ongoing chronic risk to female patients'

Kukkee has not responded to requests for comment about the allegation that he poses a risk to patients of all genders.

In an affidavit Kukkee filed in court to support his petition, he includes his application for reinstatement, in which he acknowledges that he has "violated professional boundaries" but says he no longer poses a risk to women.

He writes that he now understands his behaviour was inappropriate and is embarrassed that wasn't apparent to him earlier.

The psychiatrist who examined him on behalf of the college believed otherwise, according to the college's reasons for permanently banning him from accepting female patients, which are also included in the affidavit.

In a letter on Nov. 30, 2021, the college's registration committee writes that the psychiatrist found Kukkee had only "reluctantly accepted" that it was unprofessional to have sex with patients and was still questioning the need for professional boundaries.

A psychiatrist who examined Glenn Kukkee found that he poses a chronic risk to female patients. (Shutterstock)

The psychiatrist also found that Kukkee's apparent willingness to follow any other conditions was driven by "self-interest," the letter says. It goes on to say Kukkee poses an "ongoing chronic risk to female patients" in terms of sexual misconduct and boundary crossing.

"Your personality makeup will continue to impact your ability to practise massage therapy and there is no specific treatment that would be expected to materially change your personality," the letter says.

College encourages complainants to come forward

On Thursday, the college posted a new public notice about Kukkee, stating that the psychiatrist who examined him did not find he posed a risk to male patients.

"The legal duty to be fair also means that the college can only make decisions on the basis of evidence gathered through the complaints and investigation process," the statement says.

"This process requires that complainants come forward and be willing to be interviewed by a CMTBC investigator and, if required, give evidence at a hearing."

The college says it encourages anyone with a complaint about sexual misconduct by a massage therapist to come forward and speak to investigators, who are trained in trauma-informed techniques.

As for the former patient interviewed for this story, they said that while they suffered as a result of Kukkee's actions, they do not feel like a victim.

"I am an empowered person and he will never be able to change that. I hope my story will help stop him from causing suffering in others," they said.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to make it clear that Glenn Kukkee's registration was cancelled for non-payment of annual renewal fees, and that the reinstatement of his licence is not at issue.
    Jan 20, 2022 8:59 AM PT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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