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John of God: Brazil 'faith healer' considered fugitive

image copyrightAFP
image captionSelf-declared spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria denies abusing women who came to him as patients

A Brazilian faith healer accused of sexually abusing more than 300 women is now considered to be a fugitive.

Joao Teixeira de Faria - known as "John of God", failed to comply with a court order giving him until 14:00 (1600GMT) on Saturday to turn himself in.

A dozen women have come forward in Brazil to accuse the prominent self-styled spiritual healer of sexually abusing them at his clinic.

He is based in the central town of Abadiania but has followers worldwide.

Mr Faria's lawyer, Alberto Toron, said he would report to the authorities but did not say where or when. Mr Toron said he would file an appeal on Monday.

A Dutch photographer, Zahira Leeneke Maus, told Globo TV that he had manipulated her into performing sex acts and then raped her.

In a statement to Globo, Mr Faria's office strongly denied the allegations.

It said the 76-year-old had used his powers to treat thousands of people, and "vehemently rejects [allegations of] any improper practice during his treatments".

Nine Brazilian women, who remained anonymous, also told Globo TV that the self-declared healer had abused them on the premise of transferring his "cleansing" energy.

Some said they had been seeking a cure for depression when the alleged abuse took place.

The related O Globo newspaper later said it had spoken to two more women with similar allegations.

Mr Faria, who is not a medical doctor, has previously been fined and jailed for operating without a licence.

He denied the accusations when speaking to a crowd of followers on Thursday, at his centre, declaring that he would comply with the law.

US TV host Oprah Winfrey travelled to Brazil in 2013 to meet him, and witnessed him performing his "psychic surgery" at his clinic, west of the capital Brasilia.

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