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.
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.
‘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