Sao Paulo (AFP) – Brazilian prosecutors have ordered the arrest of a famous “spiritual healer,” Joao Teixeira de Faria, who stands accused by hundreds of women of sexual abuse under the pretext of treating them, officials told AFP on Friday.
“Yes, (the warrant) has been decreed,” said a spokesman for the security secretariat in the state of Goias, where the small town of Abadiania hosting Faria’s center is located, near the capital Brasilia.
He added that Faria — better known as “Joao de Deus,” or “John of God” — had not yet been apprehended.
Faria’s lawyer did not respond to calls.
According to Brazilian media, at least 300 women have lodged complaints with police and prosecutors in several states alleging that Faria, 76, forced them into sex acts in one-on-one “healing” sessions.
Faria is internationally known, and many foreigners figure among the thousands who each month flocked to his center in the hope of miracle cures.
His fame got a big boost in 2013 when US talk show diva Oprah Winfrey featured him on one of her shows, after visiting him the previous year.
This week, Winfrey deleted the video of that episode from her online archive.
At least one complaint came from a woman in the United States, and one from Switzerland, according to prosecutors.
The scandal burst forth a week ago when Brazilian network Globo TV aired accusations from several women, including a Dutch choreographer, Zahira Mous, who also said she had been raped by Faria.
Faria has denied the allegations.
On Wednesday, he briefly met hundreds of white-clad faithful waiting for him in Abadiania, telling them, “I am not guilty.”