A famed Brazilian “medium” and “psychic surgeon”, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women under the pretext of treating them, surrendered to authorities on Sunday, 16 Dec. 2018, Brazilian media reported.
An arrest warrant had been previously issued for the 76-year-old alleged rapist, whose real name is Joao Teixeira de Faria but who is widely known in the Americas as João Teixeira or João de Deus (‘John of God’).
For years, he had received thousands of believers each week – including numerous celebrities – at his temple in the town of Abadiania, in Goias state, near the capital Brasilia.
A cell-phone video filmed by a journalist and broadcast on the Globo news channel shows a weary-looking, downcast Faria stepping out of a car on an unpaved road before surrendering to waiting police.
Several television stations then broadcast live scenes of his arrival in a police cruiser with tinted windows at police headquarters in Goiania, the capital of Goias.
In the video, Faria is heard saying that when he learned of the accusations against him, “I surrendered to divine justice and, as promised, I now place myself in the hands of earthly justice.”
Victims took to the local press to describe their ordeal.
Faria’s lawyer Alberto Toron told reporters he would seek his release and hoped he could be assigned to house arrest.
The “healer” has insisted on his innocence — some people disagree.
“He used to say that God didn’t exist, that he was God,” daughter Dalva Teixeira, 49, told the Brazilian press. She is among those accusing him.
Ms Teixeira was allegedly beaten and raped by her own father — who she called a “monster” — until she was 14 years old.
In addition to that, he withdrew R$35 million (US$8.9 million) from several bank accounts on Wednesday, 12 Dec. 2018, according to O Globo newspaper.
The suspiciously large transaction prompted authorities to issue the arrest warrant to prevent Faria from fleeing the country or hiding the money.
The scandal erupted after TV Globo, Brazil’s largest television network, broadcast an investigative report on Faria that included testimony from women who said he had forced them — during the “healing” seances — to masturbate him or practice fellatio on him.
Following the broadcast, hundreds of women came forward with similar complaints.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Goias said it had received 330 complaints from all parts of Brazil, as well as from Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
The last three Brazilian presidents had consulted with him: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, both for cancer concerns, and Michel Temer, before prostate surgery.
Faria’s reputation reached far beyond Brazil. American TV superstar Oprah Winfrey visited him in 2012.
However, the episode of her interview series Oprah’s Next Chapter that documents the visit has now been taken down from the presenter’s YouTube page.