Former B.C. massage therapist gets 25-year ban for sexual misconduct
Leonard Krekic has also been ordered to pay more than $100K in fines and costs
WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
A former B.C. massage therapist whose unwanted sexual touching of six patients amounted to "one of the most serious cases" of misconduct ever handled by his professional regulator has been banned from the profession for at least 25 years.
Leonard Krekic, who has practised in Penticton, White Rock and Surrey, will also have to pay a $10,000 fine and $95,953 in costs to the College of Massage Therapists of B.C., according to a disciplinary decision posted online last week.
"This is one of the most serious cases to come before the discipline committee, if not the most serious case. The nature, gravity and consequences of the respondent's [Krekic's] conduct is at the most serious end of the spectrum," the Dec. 21 decision reads.
Throughout the disciplinary process, patients shared disturbing stories with the college about Krekic placing his hands under their underwear, massaging their genitals and breasts, pressing his groin against them and inserting his fingers into one woman's anus.
The disciplinary panel that decided the case found that "a strong message must be sent to the profession that sexual touching of patients will not be tolerated, and where this occurs, registrants will be met with the most serious penalties available."
According to the decision, Krekic also began a close relationship with a much younger patient "for personal and financial gain," hugged patients without their consent, roped them into "inappropriate faith-based conversations," prayed for them and practised without insurance.
In all, Krekic committed 27 acts of professional misconduct and seven of unprofessional conduct, broke college bylaws 11 times and its ethics code 14 times.
'A fundamental sense of betrayal and exploitation'
Krekic, now 51 years old, had argued for leniency during his discipline hearings, saying his misconduct has already cost him his reputation and his marriage and led him to declare bankruptcy.
But lawyers for the college told the panel that Krekic has never really owned up to what he did, and "it is difficult to imagine a respondent who has shown less insight and acknowledgment of their misconduct than this one," the decision says.
The patients Krekic abused described suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and general distrust of male health professionals.
One told the panel she was "terrified" every time her phone rang because she thought it might be Krekic.
"I was so honest with him about how desperate I was, and he was so adamant that he could help me, he used spiritual language, he sort of painted himself as someone that God would use and God had used," she said.
"There was a fundamental sense of betrayal and exploitation because you're so vulnerable when you get a massage and you're agreeing to have a person that, in most cases, you don't know."
The disciplinary panel found that a harsh penalty was necessary because "there is a strong need to uphold public confidence in the integrity of the profession and in the college's ability to regulate the profession in the public interest."
Krekic resigned his registration with the college in October 2020. Under the terms of the disciplinary decision, his licence is officially cancelled, with no option to re-apply until 2048.
The decision says this will make it "almost impossible" for Krekic to work in any other regulated profession.