Celebrity faith healer 'John of God' is jailed for 19 years in Brazil for raping four women

Daily Star, UK/December 20, 2019

By Chris Pleasance

A celebrity faith healer who was once profiled by Oprah Winfrey has been sentenced to 19 years in jail for raping four women in Brazil.

Joao Teixeira de Faria, 77, known as John of God, was sentenced Thursday on two charges of rape through sexual fraud and two of rape of a vulnerable person, each against a different woman.

The sentence is the first against Faria for sex crimes, after hundreds of women came forward starting at the end of last year to accuse him of abusing them at his church.

He is still awaiting trial for 10 additional sex crime charges, and two charges of illegal possession of a firearm.

His defence team tried to argue he should be kept under house arrest due to his advancing age and heart complications.

But these arguments were swept aside by a judge, who ruled he should serve the sentence in jail. His legal team have said they will appeal.

Faria was first arrested in December last year for firearms offences, and has been in jail ever since.

The alleged victims, which include his own daughter, say he routinely groped and raped them at his spiritual centre in a small town outside the capital Brasilia.

Claimants say the practice goes back to the 1970s, to the founding of his church.

Among the more outlandish claims are that he sold babies born of rape to child smuggling rings around the world, and killed the women who bore them.

Sabrina Bittencourt, the activist who reported on what she called Faria's 'sex farms', took her own life in Barcelona earlier this year.

Faria drew thousands of people from all over the world to his church with claims that he could treat everything from depression to cancer.

He claimed to perform spiritual healings through intense prayer sessions and vibrating palm techniques, and also performed surgeries without anesthetic despite not having a medical licence.

While he was known within the spiritual healing community, he was catapulted to worldwide fame after catching the attention of Oprah, who traveled to his church and interviewed him in 2010.

In a since-deleted column on oprah.com, Winfrey wrote that she was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing him cut into the breast of a woman without anesthesia and that she left feeling 'an overwhelming sense of peace.'

Since Faria's accusers began coming forward, she has issued a statement saying she hopes they find justice.

Faria  claimed to draw his powers from King Solomon, the King of Israel, and from God, who works through him.

As well as performing a range of surgeries, Faria is thought to have made millions selling pills which were found to contain nothing more than passionflower essence. 

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