SÃO PAULO — 1000’s of Brazilians and foreigners have flocked to the small city of Abadiânia in central Brazil for years, lured by tales of a miraculous healer generally known as John of God who slices into sufferers with out anesthesia and claims to channel spirits of the lifeless to remedy situations like most cancers and power melancholy.
In latest days, dozens of girls have come ahead to accuse the well-known medium, whose actual title is João Teixeira de Faria, of being a serial sexual abuser who preyed on weak sufferers throughout would-be therapeutic periods.
Their accounts have upended the picture of Mr. Faria, whose world fame exploded after Oprah Winfrey broadcast a profile of him in 2010 after which interviewed him throughout a go to to his middle in 2012.
As prosecutors sift by way of a mounting pile of sufferer statements, Mr. Faria seems more likely to turn into the primary main Brazilian casualty of the #MeToo motion, which to date has reverberated comparatively little in Latin America’s largest nation.
The scandal started when a number of girls offered related accounts of undesirable sexual advances in interviews with a Brazilian tv present that aired final weekend.
On Monday morning, dozens of different girls got here ahead with extra reviews of uninvited sexual advances to information organizations and to the district legal professional’s workplace within the state of Goiás, which arrange a job pressure that features 5 prosecutors and two psychologists.
In a day and a half, the duty pressure acquired 78 complaints, stated Patrícia Otoni, one of many prosecutors.
“We’ve got a critical problem forward,” Ms. Otoni stated. “We wish to present the victims that they will belief us, that even somebody who is known and internationally admired might be investigated. However we additionally want to research every grievance earlier than dashing to conclusions.”
Mr. Faria denies the accusations, in keeping with a spokesman, Mario Rosa, who stated the mounting accusations had taken on a “lynch mob” high quality.
“It’s like this individual is being become a villain for the world to see,” Mr. Rosa stated.
Mr. Faria’s lawyer, Alberto Toron, expressed skepticism in regards to the variety of girls making accusations.
“There have been 10, now there are 20 they usually’re speaking about 200, which is unusual,” he stated in an interview with the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. “That is one thing we’re investigating.”
Mr. Faria’s followers consider he’s a medium who channels the spirits of lifeless docs and different healers, who information him to carry out what he calls “non secular surgical procedures” that remedy illnesses together with sinus infections and paralysis.
The throngs of people that flock to his clinic, which opened in 1976, help a small tourism business within the city, the place Mr. Faria is the primary draw. Sufferers have turned to him after watching graphic movies of his therapeutic rituals, which embrace nasal probings, physique incisions and eye scrapings.
In a 2010 profile, Oprah Winfrey stated: “Individuals around the globe credit score John of God and the spirits that work by way of him for a lot of miraculous healings. He has additionally been misunderstood by some, persecuted by others and even accused of impropriety.”
Ms. Winfrey’s one-on-one interview in 2012, which aired the next 12 months, turbocharged his fame. It’s not out there on her web site.
“I went to Brazil in 2012 to tape an episode of ‘Oprah’s Subsequent Chapter’ that explored the controversial therapeutic strategies of John of God,” Ms. Winfrey stated in a press release. “The episode aired in 2013. I empathize with the ladies now coming ahead and hope justice is served.”
Mr. Faria has, in years previous, been accused of illegally working towards drugs, however has by no means been convicted. He was introduced ahead on intercourse abuse costs in 2008, however was acquitted.
Ms. Otoni, the prosecutor, stated there had been no pending complaints towards Mr. Faria till the present “Conversa com Bial” on Saturday night time included a number of interviews with girls who stated he had abused them.
Mr. Faria has not but been known as in for questioning as a result of the investigation is in its early phases, Ms. Otoni stated. But the accounts gathered to date level to a transparent sample, she stated.
“The victims had been folks in a weak state of affairs who went to him with the hope that he may heal them,” she stated. “The crimes they relate happen behind closed doorways and present the same modus operandi.”
The ladies interviewed on this system that aired over the weekend stated they’d been groped and compelled to rub Mr. Faria’s penis after being summoned to his personal room for particular person “non secular cleaning” periods.
Mr. Faria was born in a village not removed from the place he finally arrange his clinic. The youngest of six youngsters, he give up elementary college to assist usher in cash for his household and by no means realized to learn or write, in keeping with his official web site. Earlier than dedicating himself full-time to non secular therapeutic, he labored in mines and as a tailor.
Mr. Faria claims he had his first imaginative and prescient at age 9 and his first expertise therapeutic somebody when he was 16. Since then, he has carried out therapeutic periods that always embrace reducing into sufferers with out utilizing anesthesia, confounding docs who’ve watched in awe. In video testimonials, followers have stated they felt little or no ache through the procedures.
As his fame grew, Brazilians and determined folks from across the globe traveled to Abadiânia hoping for a miracle.
Zahira Lieneke Mous, the one girl who agreed to be recognized on the tv present, stated within the interview that she had traveled to the clinic to heal the trauma from a earlier incident of sexual abuse. A Dutch choreographer, she had heard about John of God from a pal and had seen Oprah Winfrey’s documentary.
She stated she had been summoned for a non-public session with Mr. Faria. As soon as they had been alone, she stated, he positioned her fingers on his penis and instructed her to maneuver them. After that encounter, she stated, he invited her to decide on a gemstone from his cupboard, after which throughout a second encounter he compelled her to have anal intercourse.
After 4 years of silence, Ms. Mous went public along with her account, posting a protracted message on Fb after which showing on the Brazilian speak present.
“I all the time thought I used to be the one individual — I used to be in my very own emotional jail,” she stated in an interview. “Once I realized I used to be not alone, I noticed it was most likely nonetheless happening and I needed to go public.”