After more than 300 women came forward to accuse him of sexually abusing them, self-proclaimed “faith healer,” Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as “John of God,” turned himself into Brazilian authorities on Sunday, one day after being declared a fugitive of the law. Since his arrest, more details of the circumstances surrounding it have come to light, including his attempt to withdraw millions of dollars and reports that he had a cache of weapons.
According to the Associated Press, court documents show that Faria attempted to withdraw almost $9 million from the bank before he finally surrendered himself to authorities Sunday. AP reviewed the documents, which were part of a judge’s ruling denying bail for the self-styled psychic, whose practices included channeling “spirits of the dead” and conducting surgery on patients without anesthesia.
In addition to the attempted multi-million-dollar withdrawal, AP reports that the prosecutor’s office revealed Wednesday that “investigators found firearms and large quantities of cash in a house used by de Faria as a spiritual retreat.”
Along with the details provided by state officials are reports of a more speculative and “supernatural” nature from reporters, officers and witnesses on the scene. The Daily Mail notes that some investigators believe that a few strange incidents that have taken place are “linked to the occult,” including one police clerk set to transcribe Faria’s testimony breaking his arm when he was run over by a car, and rumors that “‘spirits’ had cursed the reporters, photographers and TV camera crew who had camped for nearly 24 hours waiting for the psychic healer to surrender after a warrant was issued for his arrest.”
Over the decades, Faria had turned such superstition into a massively lucrative enterprise. After Oprah Winfrey promoted his psychic healing center on her show five years ago, Faria attained international fame, drawing thousands of tourists every year to the small town of Abadiania. According to now over 300 accusers, Faria also allegedly used that power and prestige to sexually abuse women and girls.
The accusations against the “spiritual healer” began flooding into the prosecutor’s office in Goias after a Dutch choreographer accused Faria on Brazilian television station Rede Globo on December 7 of sexually abusing her. The following Friday, a judge issued an arrest warrant giving Faria until 2 p.m. Saturday to turn himself in. When Faria failed to do so, he was officially declared a fugitive.
Prior to his arrest, Faria appeared before reporters at his center and declared himself innocent. “Brothers and my dear sisters, I thank God for being here,” he 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.”
Many of his loyal supporters reportedly denounced the accusations and some supposedly even harassed reporters trying to cover the story.