Judge dismisses ‘phantom hands’ defence; jails Christian healer for groping victims

GEORGE BOAK, 70, accused of groping women who had come to him for “spiritual” healing, tried to convince jurors during his trial last month at Bradford Crown Court that victims were experiencing “phantom hands”.

George Boak

George Boak

A former traffic warden, Boak told the court:

From the healing you get all sorts of sensations … you could feel my hands inside you and they might be two inches above the body.

However, Judge Jonathan Rose dismissed this as a “significant lie” and 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 treated his patients by using so-called faith healing techniques which involved touching patients’ bodies in various places to alleviate discomfort.

Boak said he had been involved in healing for over 25 years and that he could heal patients either through treatments at his Lightcliffe home or even by sending his healing powers to them miles away.

He said his wife was always at home when he was dealing with clients and he told patients to tell him immediately if they were not happy about anything.

Boak accepted that he had sexually touched one woman, but claimed that he had responded to an invitation from her to be “familiar”.   But he said he stopped immediately when the woman asked what he was doing.

I apologised because I realised I had misread the signs. 

Boak suggested during his evidence that two other women may have thought he was touching them intimately when he wasn’t.

When But prosecutor Michael Smith insisted that his claims about “phantom hands” were a lie, Boak replied:

No it’s not a lie, it’s well-documented is phantom hands.

The woman who first complained to the police about Boak last year told Bradford Crown Court how he had been the only person who could ease the chronic back pain she had suffered for years, but she felt uncomfortable about some of the remarks he made to her.

The complainant, who together with the other women cannot be identified for legal reasons, said Boak would tell her how attractive she was and describe her as “stunning”, but she told him to stop it because he was meant to be professional.

She said she stopped going to his home for healing sessions because of the comments, but later decided to go back to him out of “sheer desperation” to get rid of the pain.

The woman described how Boak put his hand inside her bra during the alleged sexual assault last year.

I dragged his hand out really quickly and within seconds he’s got his hand down my leggings.

She said she managed to get up and “hobble” out of the house and then contacted the police.

The jury also heard from another complainant who said she had gone to police about Boak after seeing an article in a newspaper about his appearance in Calderdale magistrates court last August.

She alleged that she was also molested by Boak several years ago and told the court she how she reacted when she saw the newspaper report.

I froze really. It felt really horrible. It just brought it all back and I thought I need to help this lady.

She told the jury she had not consented to Boak touching her sexually and said she did not know either of the two other complainants involved in the case.

A third complainant has alleged that Boak sexually assaulted her while she was naked and undergoing treatment at his house.

Boak, now on the sex offenders’ register for two years, had denied two charges of sexual assault and one of indecent assault.

Hat tip: Robert Stovold