More than 200 women have accused a 76-year-old celebrity “spiritual healer” of sexually abusing them, including by saying he could only use his supernatural powers to cure them through sex acts.
Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as “Joao de Deus” (“Joao of God”), allegedly used his status as an Oprah-endorsed religious guru to hurt women.
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.
It’s not surprising that a religious leader and “medium” is accused of taking advantage of women. Sadly, that’s almost a regular occurrence these days. It’s also not unusual that Oprah Winfrey celebrated a faith-healer known for his spiritual powers. But the sheer number of alleged victims is truly shocking.
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 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.
Faria has denied the allegations and deserves a fair trial. At the same time, the more than 200 women who say they were his victims should also be heard and taken seriously. It’s hard to imagine this is all some giant conspiracy when so many women tell the same kind of story about the same guy. As always, though, justice isn’t always a foregone conclusion.
(Screenshot via YouTube)