A sex abuse activist who made the sensational claim that celebrity faith healer "John of God" was running a "sex slave" farm of women and selling their babies on the black market has reportedly taken her own life.
Self-proclaimed psychic healer Joao Teixeira de Faria was arrested in December after hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by women and girls, including his own daughter. Faria rose to international fame after he was promoted by Oprah Winfrey in 2013; his celebrity clients included Paul Simon, Naomi Campbell, and allegedly Bill Clinton, among others.
Amid a growing number of accusations against Faria that have now topped 600 women and girls, activist Sabrina Bittencourt accused Faria of running a sex slave farm and selling the babies of the women on the black market. The New York Post reports (formatting adjusted):
In a video, Bittencourt, whose organization, Coame, helps women report sexual assault by religious leaders, said she has spoken to women from at least three continents who claimed they bought Brazilian babies from John of God for as much as $50,000, the Mirror reported.
Bittencourt claims she has collected testimony from former members of the “John of God” cult. She claims 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 and their babies would be sold to the highest bidder from other continents, Bittencourt alleges.
Now, the Sun and the Daily Mail report that Bittencourt has committed suicide in her home in Barcelona, Spain, where she was reportedly living under protection after receiving death threats from Faria's followers.
"We announce with regret the death of Sabrina de Campos Bittencourt, which occurred around 9pm on Saturday on February 2 in Barcelona where she was living," activist group Victimas Unidas announced, the Daily Mail reports. "The activist committed suicide and left a farewell note explaining the reasons why she took her own life. We ask you all not to try to contact her relatives. Two of her three children are still not aware of what happened and their father, Rafael Velasco, is trying to protect them."
Her eldest son, Gabriel Baum, addressed her death on Facebook, writing, "She took the last step so that we could live. They killed my mother."
"Hundreds of girls were enslaved over years, lived on farms in Goias, served as wombs to get pregnant, for their babies to be sold," Bittencourt claimed, the Post reports. "These girls were murdered after 10 years of giving birth. We have got a number of testimonies. We have received reports from the adoptive mothers of their children that we sold for between $20,000 and $50,000 in Europe, USA and Australia, as well as testimony from ex-workers and local people who are tired of being complicit with John of God’s gang."
Whether Bittencourt's stunning claims are true remains to be seen. Accusations by hundreds of women are currently under investigation. Last week, a judge ruled that Faria will face trial for multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse, Fox News reports.