Brazil's Oprah-Endorsed 'Psychic Surgeon' Rapist Gets 19 Years In Prison

A Brazilian faith healer known as João de Deus, or John of God (real name Joao Teixeira de Faria), was sentenced to 19 years and four months in his first prison sentence stemming from a spate of sex abuse allegations uncovered by a journalist whose son says she was murdered.

Joao Teixeira de Faria a.k.a. "John of God"

According to ABC News, the 77-year-old de Faria was convicted of raping four women, reads a statement from the court. His lawyers say he will appeal the decision, while he faces additional cases related to 10 more alleged sex crimes. He has also been accused, though not charged, of running sex-slave farms for child trafficking, allegedly killing mothers after 10 years of birthing.

Faria, whose high-profile clients were  rumored to include supermodel Naomi Campbell, former President Bill Clinton and singer Paul Simon, rose to international fame after Oprah Winfrey sat down with him in a 2010 interview - calling him "inspiring."

Since then, hundreds of women - including his daughter - have accused him of all types of sexual abuse ranging from groping to rape.

As we noted in February, de Faria started his "spiritual hospital" in 1978, the Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola - named after Saint Ignatius, one of the 37 spirits Faria claimed would inhibit his body during psychic healing sessions, according to The Sun. In 1979, a benefactor secured land for him in a small town of Abadiânia, Brazil, where he received over 10,000 visitors a month

John of God's "spiritual surgeries" would often involve scraping people's eyeballs without anesthetics, or inserting scissors of forceps inside people's noses to cure various conditions. His accusers say he took it much further - instructing them to face away from them before performing sexual acts to "cure" them, allegations Faria denies. 

Last December, four women appeared on Brazilian television to accuse Faria of molesting them during sessions, including Dutch choreographer Zahira Lienke Mous, who says she learned of Faria from Oprah Winfrey's interview.

Speaking on TV Globo, three of the women described their encounters with Faria to host Pedro Bial on condition of anonymity. Dutch choreographer Zahira Lieneke Mous decided to be named, and said that during one of her trips to see the healer to be cured of the trauma of previous sexual assault, he took her into a back room and had her masturbate him. He then had her pick out a gemstone from a set and granted special treatment. She has also accused him of raping her during another session.

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São Paolo businesswoman Aline Salih told local newspaper Folha de São Paulo in an article that published on Monday that a similar incident had happened to her. -BuzzFeed News

Following the broadcast, Brazilian prosecutors announced that more than 200 women had come forward with similar claims, leading for prosecutors for the state of Goias to call for his arrest.

The rapist faith-healer withdrew 35 million reais ($8.9m US) from various bank accounts, causing authorities to respond with an arrest warrant over concerns he would flee the country or hide money from those who might sue. De Faria surrendered himself to police in Abadiania, and was transported to police headquarters in Goiania, the capital of the state of Goias.

De Faria's daughter, Dalva Tiexeira, says that her father abused and raped her between the ages of 10 and 14, and that he only stopped after she became pregnant by one of his employees. The subsequent beating she received from "John of God" caused her to miscarry, she says. 

Dalva Teixeira, de Faria's daughter

"My father is a monster," stated Teixeira. 

Suspicious suicide

Another highly disturbing aspect of the case is that of 38-yeaer-old Brazilian activist, Sabrina Bittencourt, who mysteriously "committed suicide" in Lebanon in February while she was on the road and "living under protection."

Sabrina Bittencourt

As we noted at the time:

Bittencourt said she had received reports of Faria's sex slave operation in which newborns were sold for up to £40,000 ($51,000 USD) in the United States, Europe and Australia. 

She claimed Faria would offer money to poor girls aged 14 to 18 to go and live in mineral mines or farms he owns in the Brazilian states of Goias and Minas Gerais.

There they would become sex slaves and be forced to get pregnant, then their babies would be sold to the highest bidder.

“In exchange for food, they were impregnated and their babies sold on the black market,” she said.

Hundreds of girls were enslaved over years, living on farms in Goias, and served as wombs to get pregnant, for their babies to be sold.

“These girls were murdered after 10 years of giving birth. We have got a number of testimonies.” -The Sun

Bittencourt's eldest son, Gabriel Baum, confirmed her death on Facebook with a note that read: "She took the last step so that we could live. They killed my mother."

"We said goodbye in Paris, she traveled to Barcelona for a few days to create the protection network for Brazilians of exile and returned to Lebanon with her girlfriend. It was one of the countries she loved!" Gabriel posted to Facebook.