Faith healer is jailed for ‘acts of depravity’

George Boak. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
George Boak. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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A ‘CHRISTIAN healer’ who sexually assaulted female patients has been jailed for two years for what a judge described as “acts of depravity and lust” that were anything but Christian.

George Boak, 70, indecently touched three women he was treating at his home at Lightcliffe, near Halifax, while his wife of 34 years was in another room.

He denied the offences and tried to convince jurors during his trial at Bradford Crown Court that victims were experiencing “phantom hands” – a phenomenon he claimed to have heard about in which patients imagine they are being touched.

Judge Jonathan Rose said, however, the explanation was a “significant lie” as he jailed the pensioner for two years.

He said Boak had preyed on vulnerable and desperate women and had shown “continuing unwillingness to demonstrate any remorse whatsoever”.

Boak, of Aysgarth Avenue, treated them by using so-called faith healing techniques which involved touching patients’ bodies in various places to alleviate discomfort.

The first victim, who had turned to Boak after suffering chronic back pain, “only had a few options left”, the court heard, as she had almost exhausted conventional medicine.

During a therapy session, Boak put his hand down her underwear, leaving the woman “distressed, upset and crying”, the court heard.

Judge Rose said the healer “felt empowered” by the offence and continued offending because he “thought he could abuse his patients and get away with it”.

Boak hugged the second victim, who was being treated while naked, then kissed her breast and touched her groin.

He apologised, claiming he mistakenly thought she wanted him to make advances, but denied he had committed a criminal offence during his trial.

The third victim was “groomed” by Boak, Judge Rose said, after the defendant told her she was “stunning” and “beautiful”.

She stopped going for treatment because she felt uneasy, but she returned out of desperation when she was in pain.

Boak “attacked” her, the judge said, putting his hand down her knickers despite her attempts to resist.

The woman reported the attack, which lead to Boak being arrested and the other victims coming forward with allegations that spanned several years.

He denied sexual touching and indecent assault but was found guilty by a jury following a trial earlier this month.

Boak, who had practised as what he described as a Christian healer for 25 years, was of previous good character and many of his patients believed he possessed a genuine healing gift, the court heard in mitigation.

But Judge Rose said the defendant had repeatedly “breached the trust of vulnerable people” and banned him from practising on any unaccompanied female patients for life.

“The offences you have committed are the very antithesis of any of the teachings of the Christian faith,” he said.

“They are acts of depravity and lust and are repulsive to any person of any, or indeed no, religious faith.

“Although these were not prolonged assaults, they were in my view extremely serious.”

He added that while the trial was not about whether Boak’s method of healing was genuine or bogus, the jury had rightly rejected the defendant’s “phantom hands” explanation.

Judge Rose said: “This was a significant lie through which the jury rightly saw.”

Boak, who had been remanded in custody since his conviction, will have to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Boak’s barrister Michele Stuart-Lofthouse said her client did appear to have a “healing gift” which had benefited many people. She said that the biggest effect of the prison sentence would be on his wife who had medical problems.