Brazilian faith healer accused of sexual assault by more than 200 women faces arrest

'I am in the hands of the law,' celebrity healer claims 

Zamira Rahim
Thursday 13 December 2018 13:51
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Joao Teixeira de Fari arrives in Abadiania, Brazil
Joao Teixeira de Fari arrives in Abadiania, Brazil

A Brazilian faith healer, who became internationally famous after appearing on a TV show hosted by Oprah Winfrey, has been accused of sexual abuse by over 200 women.

Prosecutors have asked a court in Abadiania, a small town in central Brazil, to arrest Joao Teixeira de Faria, who calls himself "John of God".

Mr Faria runs a healing centre in the town, which opened in 1976 and attracts thousands of Brazilians and tourists each year.

Such is his influence that Abadiania's economy has come to depend on the tourism brought by the centre.

On Friday, the town's residents were shocked when Dutch choreographer Zahira Maus accused Mr Faria of sexually assaulting her.

Ms Maus was speaking on a late night talk show on Globo TV, a Brazilian television network.

Staff at the network spent three months investigating the story and interviewed 12 more women, who also said that they were abused by the healer.

The investigation has triggered a landslide of similar complaints against Mr Faria.

After the broadcast, 258 women came forward to accuse him of sexual abuse, the prosecutor's office in Brazil's Goias state said.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place during spiritual healing sessions in Mr Faria's private quarters at his centre.

Mr Faria denied the accusations and said that he would comply with the law.

In 2013 Winfrey broadcast a report on his psychic healing methods, boosting Mr Faria's international profile.

He has also gained attention for performing supposedly miraculous surgeries without anaesthesia.

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Winfrey said in a statement that she had visited the centre in 2012, to explore Mr Faria's controversial healing methods for an episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter" which aired the following year.

"I empathise with the women now coming forward and hope justice is served," she said.

Some of Mr Faria's followers rejected the accusations and harassed journalists who arrived in Abadiania after the news broke.

The healer made a brief public appearance on Wednesday and was met with loud cheers and applause from the gathered crowd.

"Brothers and my dear sisters, I thank God for being here," he said.

"I want to comply with Brazilian law. I am in the hands of the law.

"John of God is still alive."

Additional reporting by agencies

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