“John of God,” the self-proclaimed faith healer who achieved international fame after being promoted by Oprah Winfrey a few years ago, has turned himself into Brazilian authorities amid hundreds of sexual abuse allegations by former patients.
On Sunday, psychic “healer” João Teixeira de Faria surrendered himself a day after authorities ruled him a fugitive amid accusations of sexual abuse by over 300 women.
Local outlets say Faria surrendered in a road to the small, centrally located town of Abadiania, where he has run his now-world famous spiritual center since 1976. After Winfrey promoted “John of God” and his spiritual center in 2013, visitors to the center exploded, numbering in the thousands annually and becoming the center of the town’s economy.
A judge issued an arrest warrant Friday for the spiritual healer, whose celebrity patients include singer Paul Simon, super model Naomi Campbell, and, rumor has it, maybe even Bill Clinton. When Faria failed to report by the 2 p.m. deadline on Saturday, he was officially declared a fugitive, Reuters reports.
Faria’s alleged sexual abuses first came to light a little over a week before his arrest, when a Dutch choreographer accused him on Brazilian television station Rede Globo of sexually abusing her. Over the next few days, hundreds of additional accusations streamed into the prosecutors’ office in the Brazilian state of Goias, where Abadiania is located.
In his first public appearance after the allegations were reported, Faria declared himself innocent but promised to submit to authorities. “Brothers and my dear sisters, I thank God for being here,” Faria told his followers and reporters. “I want to comply with Brazilian law. I am in the hands of the law. John of God is still alive.”
Some of his supporters weren’t so compliant, defiantly cheering him when he first appeared and reportedly harassing reporters trying to cover the story.
Faria’s “global fame exploded” largely as a result of Winfrey’s promotion of his healing methods and center, The New York Times notes. Faria’s celebrity-praised “miraculous” methods include channeling “spirits of the dead” to heal patients and performing surgery without anesthesia, often on serious and even life-threatening conditions. After producing a profile on him in 2010, Winfrey visited his center in 2012 and aired the show in 2013, Reuters reports.
“I empathize with the women now coming forward and hope justice is served,” Winfrey said in response to the flood of allegations against Faria.
Page Six reports that Paul Simon also visited the center to help him deal with violent dreams he’s had since childhood, but he wasn’t impressed. “He didn’t really have anything that fixed it, if that’s the right word,” said Simon. Naomi Campbell likewise visited the center in 2015, but her representatives offered no statement.
Page Six also notes that Bill Clinton is said to have traveled to Abadiania for treatment, but at this point it’s just a “rumor” mentioned by Faria’s “right-hand man and translator,” Diego Coppola.