BC RMTs accused of sexual assault worked together for 13 years

Jan 19 2023, 7:34 pm

The decades-long friendship between two registered massage therapists (RMTs) accused of sexual assault is coming to light, where one of them even tried to vouch for the other as a witness during a discipline hearing on sexual misconduct.

Leonard Krekic and Gudbjartur (Bodhi) Haraldsson worked together at PainPro North Surrey City Centre, where both held stake in the company and shared patients, according to a document from the College of Massage Therapists of BC.

“They exercised, studied, socialized, and prayed together,” the college said. “This is not the case of an employment relationship alone, but of a relationship that has deep and wide roots.”

PainPro North Surrey

PainPro North Surrey City Centre on 136A Street (Google Street View)

Now, both are facing sexual assault allegations. Krekic has been accused by multiple patients and faced a lengthy discipline process with the college, which culminated in a 25-year ban from the profession and a fine of more than $100,000.

The College’s Discipline Committee found convincing evidence to support allegations that Krekic touched multiple patients’ genitals during appointments, including inserting his finger into one patient’s anus. The panel also found that he spread patients’ legs and pressed his groin against theirs, and pressed his groin against a patient’s hand. He also apparently asked patients if he could pray for them, asked one to sign a consent form while naked, and at one point failed to obey his condition of having a chaperone present for appointments.

“This is one of the most serious cases to come before the Discipline Committee, if not the most serious case,” the committee wrote in its December 2022 decision. “[Krekic] engaged in repeated occurrences of sexual misconduct, sometimes committing similar acts of misconduct with different patients in a matter of days, and once on the same day.”

Haraldsson tries to vouch for Krekic

During his 2021 discipline hearing, Krekic called Haraldsson as a witness — his friend who, last month, was charged with sexual assault of a patient.

Haraldsson spoke about items such as the layout of the clinic, and Krekic also wanted to call him as an expert witness. But the college wouldn’t allow that, saying Haraldsson didn’t meet the legal requirement for an expert to be impartial, independent, and unbiased.

The college found Haraldsson and Krekic were “closely associated” for nearly 20 years. Krekic employed Haraldsson for 10 years and the two worked together for an additional three years. They also shared a friendship.

“Mr. Haraldsson assisted [Krekic] as an instructor at courses presented through Reconnect Movement Therapy, both [Krekic] and Mr. Haraldsson served on the College’s Board at the same time, they read the Bible together, and they prayed together.”

Krekic hired Haraldsson in 2003 and they worked closely together until 2017.

Haraldsson testified that Krekic finding committed sexual misconduct would be a “stain on the profession,” when he himself had a reputation and financial interest in the clinic where the alleged misconduct took place. He’s a partner in pain, and shares PainPro’s income, according to the discipline documents. Three of the six complainants against Krekic alleged the sexual misconduct took place there, while both men worked at the clinic.

The college did not allow Haraldsson to be an expert witness and didn’t include the report he’d prepared — providing his opinions on how RMTs obtain informed consent, whether it’s acceptable to engage in conversation with patients about religion or spirituality, whether it’s acceptable to adjust patient undergarments, whether it’s possible for an RMT to inadvertently press their groin against a patient’s hand, or whether there are recognized treatments that involve touching sensitive areas of the patient’s body.

PainPro Surrey Memorial

Haraldsson is accused of sexually assaulting a patient at PainPro’s Surrey Memorial location on 96 Avenue. (Google Street View)

More than a year after Krekic’s hearing, in December 2022, Surrey RCMP announced the charge against Haraldsson. The force has asked anyone else who believes they may be a victim to come forward.

Krekic has not been charged criminally, although the force said it’s been following his discipline by the college.

“We are aware of the public release of information from the Discipline Committee of the College of Massage Therapists of BC, however, given that no criminal charges are laid at this time, we are unable to confirm any further details,” Const. Sarbjit K. Sangha told Daily Hive. “As always, we encourage anyone with information to contact police.”

A spokesperson for the college told Daily Hive that complainants must go to police to report conduct that they believe may be criminal in nature and that the college cannot make a police report on a patient’s behalf. In cases where complaints are made concurrently to the college and police, and the police report results in an investigation and a criminal charge, the college typically lets the criminal justice process proceed to completion before completing its own inquiry and disciplinary process, so as not to interfere with or affect the outcome of the criminal process.

Police say the Haraldsson investigation is ongoing.

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