More than 200 women accuse Brazil 'spiritual healer' of sex abuse

2018-12-11 22:53
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

More than 200 women have come forward in Brazil to accuse an internationally celebrated self-proclaimed spiritual healer of sexually abusing them, according to media reports and police complaints received on Tuesday.

The accusations against Joao Teixeira de Faria, 76, better known as "Joao de Deus" ("Joao of God") include allegations he made women perform sex acts during one-on-one sessions in which he claimed he was using his supernatural powers to cure them.

Faria, whose reputation reaches far beyond Brazil, counts followers in the United States - where American television celebrity and producer Oprah Winfrey did a show on him in 2013 after visiting him the previous year - as well as Europe and Australia.

Brazilian television network Globo TV and its associated newspaper O Globo reported allegations last week from a dozen women dating back over the past eight years.

They said Faria had made them masturbate him or perform oral sex, which he insisted was the only way to transfer his "cleansing" energy to them.

One woman, a Dutch choreographer identified as Zahira Leeneke Maus, told Globo TV that Faria had raped her.

Hundreds come forward

Faria's healing center, in the small town of Abadiania, close to the capital Brazilia, did not respond to attempts by AFP to get comment on the allegations.

Globo's G1 news website on the weekend cited a statement from Faria's press service saying he had used his powers to treat thousands of people over the past 44 years and "he vehemently rejects (allegations of) any improper practice during his treatments".

Since the initial reports, many other women in Brazil have come forward to lodge complaints with police against Faria.

Prosecutors in the state of Goias, in which Abadiania is located, said on Tuesday they had 78 complaints from women saying they were victims of the spiritual healer.

More complaints were also being lodged in other states. In the state of Sao Paulo, a prosecutor told media that more than 200 complaints had been received.

Town suffers

The allegations have resonated through Brazil, where "Joao de Deus" had been broadly respected and admired.

Three Brazilian presidents had sought his services: former leftist leaders Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff, who had both battled cancer; and current President Michel Temer, before a prostate operation.

Several foreign and Brazilian media outlets have done critical investigations into Faria's claims of healing. Some uncovered previous allegations of sexual abuse and other improprieties for which Faria has never been prosecuted.

The fresh allegations come amid a global reckoning of alleged sexual misconduct by powerful men against women under the #MeToo campaign.

They threaten to decimate the prosperity Abadiania has enjoyed from the many thousands of believers who each year flocked to see Faria.

The Estado de S. Paulo newspaper quoted the town's mayor saying he feared that the tourism industry in Abadiania could collapse as a result.

He said the spiritual healer had attracted nearly 10 000 visitors each month, 40 percent of them from abroad.

Read more on:    brazil  |  sexual abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.