wanted Rhoda Cansick to pay £30,000|
Correction - October
Below, we say:
"Ruling against him, the US Supreme Court described him as a bigamist whod
entered the country on a false passport and evaded deportation making him a fugitive."
should have said: "Papers presented to the US Supreme Court by the Department
of Justice described him as a bigamist whod entered the country on a false
passport and evaded deportation making him a fugitive."
Out investigates the fake religious healer who conned half a million pounds from
hundreds of sick people - and now he's targeting the South West.
Sauvage (aka Philip Savage) is a French man who claims he can heal everything
from terminal illness to the environmental ills of the planet.
healing comes at a cost.
Earlier this year, an 81 year old widow had a
The caller wanted to tell Rhoda Cansick about the incredible powers
of Philippe Sauvage.
Rhoda had a bad back and her visitor said that Sauvage
could heal it, but she had to go to Switzerland to see him:
said how much would it cost to go to Switzerland and that's when she said £30,000.
So I said I couldn't afford that. She said I could possibly mortgage my house."
charges extraordinary sums because he claims he's superhuman, but we've discovered
he is in fact a super conman.
Fifteen years ago,
Sauvage appeared on French TV claiming to be a healer.
He showcased people
who said they'd been healed by him.
After the show, thousand of viewers
contacted Sauvage for help. But it was a sham.
Sauvage - set up Catharsis|
Doctors could find no evidence
to back up his claims and soon hundreds of complaints were made by people who
had paid money but not been healed.
In 1995 a French court found Sauvage
guilty of a £500,000 fraud. Sauvage was sentenced to five years in jail
- but he'd already fled the country.
He turned up in Greenland, and later
the United States, claiming asylum.
Ruling against him, the US Supreme Court
described him as a bigamist who'd entered the country on a false passport and
evaded deportation making him a fugitive.
But while in California, he'd
met sociologist Jane Dillon.
Together they set up Catharsis, a not for
profit religious corporation promoting Sauvage as a healer and with the stated
aim of saving the earth.
The Plymouth connection
ago, a Plymouth couple had a visit from their new neighbour - it was Jane Dillon.
Soon she was a regular visitor, singing the praises of Philippe Sauvage
who was now based in Europe.
Simon Rhodes and Viktoria Hartridge were drawn
in and started to spread the word about Sauvage across the South West, and eventually
persuaded a group of friends to pay Catharsis a fee to meet him.
Rhodes and Viktoria Hartridge were drawn in|
In total, Simon
calculated that he, Viktoria and their friends paid £100,000 in fees to
see Philippe Sauvage.
Jenny from West Devon also came to hear of Philippe
In June 2004, Jenny flew to see him in Switzerland where she met
Grant and 30 others.
Jenny and Grant paid £7,000 each, and we've
evidence that in total at least £150 000 had been paid to Catharsis by members
of the group.
Jenny wanted Sauvage to heal an ear condition. Grant wanted
help for a friend's sick child back home.
He'd been led to believe that
distant healing was well within Sauvage's powers.
Jenny's ear did not improve
and Grant came away from meeting Sauvage feeling cheated.
months ago, Sauvage was living in Rome.
Susie Haslam, from East Devon,
worked briefly for him as an unpaid nanny, having donated £12,000 to Catharsis.
Susie believes Sauvage knowingly cheats people:
evening he actually was talking very freely, joking about various people who had
come to him when he was living in France. I was appalled at the way he spoke of
them. He was ridiculing them. He was calling them stupid. He was obviously exploiting
Some of Sauvage's recent clients were aware of
his prosecution in France.
- paid £7,000 for treatment but felt cheated|
Catharsis website is littered with supposed medical studies to make him look genuine,
like a demonstration of his ability to heal - at a distance - children with severe
A study, Jane Dillon says, was carried out at one of America's top
But the unit's director, Dr. Peter Grossman, told us Jane
Dillon merely asked if she could pray for patients.
He categorically denies
being involved in a so-called study or that any "impossible" healing
Catharsis also claims that Sauvage healed a man called Buz
Crump of AIDS.
We showed the evidence to a UK expert from the Terrence
Higgins Trust who said:
"It was the anti virals the patient
was taking that reduced his viral load and that's a standard virological response.
It's very common. There's no cure here, and claiming that there is, is fraud."
Pier Forlani and his family, the price of being involved with Catharsis isn't
He journeyed 7,000 miles from the west coast of America
to Cornwall to fetch his son Christian - a Sauvage devotee.
had a history of drug abuse and violent behaviour.
Pier fears his son is
now suicidal and under huge pressure to raise money for Catharsis.
agreed to meet a counsellor from a charity which has helped other people reject
Sauvage but a few days later Christian returns to Cornwall to live with other
followers leaving his father in despair:
"There is no way
that he can reject Sauvage by himself, that he can find the strength. He is totally
enslaved. It's one of the most frightening and disgusting things I have witnessed
in my life."
who have paid Catharsis are local followers Christopher Layton, from Devon, and
Alison McDermott, from Cornwall.
Both are recent recruits who seem to genuinely
believe in Sauvage and are happy to recruit others.
We've no evidence the
local followers have ever benefited financially or deliberately deceived people,
but we want to find out how Catharsis draws others in and set up secret recordings
with an actress.
Our actress phones Alison McDermott saying she's struggling
to come to terms with widowhood. Alison quickly suggests Sauvage can help.
when they discuss the cost of seeing Sauvage, Alison makes our actress a disturbing
"I could pick you up and take you to the bank, I
could do that."
Alison arranges for Christopher Layton
Mr Layton has been distributing a letter promoting Sauvage -
it cites his "clinically attested cures" for aids and cancer.
claim may breach the Cancer Act which prohibits unqualified people advertising
Some weeks later, Mr Layton agrees to be interviewed by
Inside Out at his home near Tavistock. He claims to have never heard of the Cancer
Act, but says:
"If someone who has cancer misses the opportunity
to get healed, I don't think it's a good law."
remain convinced that [Sauvage] is a genuine, a valid healer."
telephone call, Alison had insisted our actress call Jane Dillon - who tells her
Sauvage can save lives. After a lengthy conversation, Jane finally reveals the
"The minimum to see Philippe is £30,000. Now, that's a
Some weeks later Jane Dillon
agreed to be interviewed and she denied saying some of the things we'd secretly
She denies that she'd ever said that Philippe Sauvage saves people
from dying but claimed:
"He helps people spiritually, and
the results show physically, emotionally, psychologically. That's what he does."
denies that she'd ever suggest to somebody who was grieving that they should pay
£30,000 to see Philippe:
"I don't suggest to anybody. They suggest
I am waiting for someone to give me £14 million so £30,000
could be too little. It could be £30 million!"
And on the Grossman
Burn Study? She refuses to accept that the Burns Centre denies ever taking part
in such a study.
Meanwhile, a number of
Sauvage followers, who'd been reluctant to talk to Inside Out, suddenly changed
One by one they say how wonderful Sauvage is, how he's changed
their lives, how they've witnessed miraculous healings.
- his son denies his account that he was suicidal|
Christian, denies Pier's account that he was suicidal and denies he was pressured
to raise money for Sauvage.
Pier heads back to the states. He's angry frustrated
and still deeply concerned for his son Christian.
"It's a dangerous
thing that these guys are doing. It's really, really dangerous.
think that most of the people involved believe what they're doing, but the core
- Sauvage, Dillon - I think they're ruthless. I think they have a very specific
goal and the goal is to make money."
Inside Out asked Philippe Sauvage
to respond to the allegations in this programme.
Through Jane Dillon, he
said he had nothing to say.
But around the South West and around the world,
there are hundreds of people who want answers.