Faith healer convicted of sexually abusing clients pleads case

The Sudbury Star/February 1, 2013

When Trina Breault began to suffer from chronic pain, she tried everything to make it go away. She talked to every specialist she could find and tried every treatment they recommended.

When nothing seemed to work, she turned to Claude Provencher, a self-proclaimed faith healer with offices in Sudbury and New Liskeard. Provencher has said he believes he has a God-given gift to heal people with a touch of his hands.

A family friend re commended Provencher to Breault, who did not advertise his services.

"I had been told he had these special gifts from God," Breault said. "Some had even referred to him as being God's second son."

Breault said the sessions, which lasted about 30 minutes and cost $40 a pop, got progressively more uncomfortable. "You're expected to get naked and you would lay on a table," she said. "You weren't covered. You were exposed."

It was the last session, Breault said, when Provencher crossed the line. Breault had asked for her husband to be present for the session. She said that upset Provencher, "and (he) ranted at me."

After that meeting, she pressed charges of sexual assault.

On Jan. 21, Provencher was convicted of six counts of sexual assault and 22 counts of breach of recognizance and probation at the Superior Court in Haileybury. He will be sentenced May 27.

It's not the first time the self-d escribed faith healer has been convicted of sexually abusing his clients. Provencher is 56. He is from St-Mathieu-d'Harricana, a small town in northwestern Quebec, but he practises in Sudbury and New Liskeard.

In late 2012, Provencher served more than a month in jail for two sexual assault charges that dated back to 2007. He inappropriately touched a female patient during a session in his Sudbury office. He was sentenced to six months in jail, but had already served more than four months for a breach of probation in 2011.

Provencher was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition and had to register to the sexual offender registry for 20 years. His probation order prevented him from being alone with patients for any spiritual sessions.

Provencher spoke to The Star after his latest brush the law. He is out on bail, but must be accompanied by a surety when he ventures in public as long as he is in Ontario. His surety accompanied him for his interview with The Star.

He said 22 former patients testified at his court hearing in Haileybury. Most of them defended him in court, he said.

"All my patients are still on my side."

He said the 22 charges for breach of probation were due to an error of interpretation. Following his conviction in Sudbury, Provencher was forbidden to be alone with his patients for spiritual sessions. However, he said the sessions -- such as those with Breault -- were not spiritual in nature, but merely healing sessions.

Provencher does not have any health-related certification, but told The Star he is a healer. "I heal all kinds of diseases," he said. "Anything from heart and lung problems to arthritis and cancer."

He said all his patients are expected to remove their clothing because he must make contact with the skin for his technique to work.

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

Despite the convictions against him, Provencher has maintained his innocence.

"It's easy to destroy me now, my name has already been undone," he said. "No matter what I said, I was guilty."

Breault, however, takes a different view. "He claims his powers come from God, so is that not a spiritual session?" she asked, when told Provencher regarded his meetings with her as healing, rather spiritual, sessions.

Breault said she made sure there was no publication ban on the case so she could share her story. She contacted The Star after Provencher was convicted in Haileybury, wanting to warn others.

"He has a lot of supporters," she said.

Breault said she sought Provencher's services in a moment of weakness and desperation.

"A young girl that is struggling and feels she has no other choice is going to have a very difficult time," she said.

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