'Healer' loses appeal on sex convictions

The Sudbury Star, Canada/July 23, 2015

By Mary Katherine Keown

A self-proclaimed faith healer has lost his appeal to have his sex assault convictions overturned.

Claude Provencher, 58, was convicted in January 2013 of six counts of sexual assault, and 22 counts of breach of recognizance and probation at the superior court in Haileybury.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, plus three years' probation.

Provencher, who has claimed in the past he has a God-given gift to heal by touch, went before the appeals court of Ontario on June 26 to appeal his conviction. At the trial, he put forth four arguments as evidence.

He accused the judge in Haileybury of making legal errors when he cast doubt on Provencher's claims that he was a faith healer. He also accused the judge of erring when he barred Provencher from being alone with clients. Finally, Provencher accused the judge of bias and of rendering an unreasonable verdict.

Crown lawyers disputed each claim and rejected Provencher's appeal, and the appeal court agreed. His conviction stands.

Trina Breault had sought Provencher's services when she began to suffer from chronic joint and back pain. Her sessions with him, six in total, got progressively more uncomfortable, as she was expected to lie naked and uncovered on a table. She accused him of touching her breast without consent and charged him with sexual assault.

Breault's case was not Provencher's first brush with the law. He served more than a month in jail in late 2012 for two sexual assault charges dating back to 2007. He was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition and had to register with the sexual offender registry for 20 years.

Provencher sat down with The Star in 2013. At that time, he alleged the 22 charges for breach of probation stemmed from a misinterpretation. He had been forbidden to be alone with patients for spiritual sessions; however, he said in 2013 the sessions were not spiritual, but healing, in nature.

He also claimed he asked patients to disrobe in order the facilitate his hands-on technique.

"Some people stay clothed, but I tell them it's easier for me if they're naked," he said at the time. "No one is forced to take their clothes off."

Provencher also said in 2013 that 22 of his former clients attended his trial in Haileybury, many testifying in his defense.

He does not have any health-related certification, but told The Star in 2013 he is a healer.

"I heal all kinds of diseases," he said two years ago. "Anything from heart and lung problems to arthritis and cancer."

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