Brazil faith healer accused of sexual abuse turns himself in

Followers of Brazilian spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as "John of God", take part in a demonstration in Abadiania, Brazil, on Dec 13, 2018.
Followers of Brazilian spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as "John of God", take part in a demonstration in Abadiania, Brazil, on Dec 13, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS
Followers of Brazilian spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as "John of God", are seen at a "healing centre" in his spiritual centre in Abadiania, Brazil, on Dec 13, 2018.
Followers of Brazilian spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as "John of God", are seen at a "healing centre" in his spiritual centre in Abadiania, Brazil, on Dec 13, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRASILIA (REUTERS) - A Brazilian faith healer who was accused of sexual abuse by more than 300 women has turned himself in a day after being officially ruled a fugitive, local news media reported on Sunday (Dec 16).

João Teixeira de Faria, 76, known as "John of God" and who became a celebrity when Oprah Winfrey broadcast a report on his healing methods in 2013, surrendered to the authorities in a roadway in Abadiânia, several news outlets said.

Since 1976, he has led a spiritual centre in Abadiânia, a small town in the central Brazilian state of Goiás.

Representatives for Faria and the police could not be immediately reached for comment.

A judge issued an arrest warrant for Faria last Friday, giving him until 2pm on Saturday to surrender. After he failed to report to the authorities, Faria was officially ruled a fugitive.

Faria drew thousands of Brazilians and foreigners to his spiritual centre in Abadiânia.

He denied the accusations last Thursday when he visited his centre and spoke to a crowd of followers. His lawyer last Saturday said Faria would turn himself in and file an appeal on Monday.

Faria could face charges of rape, with a prison sentence of 10 years if convicted, and rape of a vulnerable person, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.