Notorious celebrity faith healer John of God 'sold babies' to Australians

Nine News, Australia/January 14, 2019

By Mark Saunokonoko

The Brazilian celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women is now facing allegations he sold babies to foreigners, including Australians, for up to $70,000 each.

Joao Teixeira de Faria, also known as John of God, was arrested in Brazil in December after hundreds of people came forward with allegations of rape and threats of violence. Many claimed they were underage at the time of the alleged abuse.

Now, John of God has been hit with stunning new claims that he operated a baby-selling and human trafficking ring from his spiritual compound in Abadiania, 130km south-west of Brasilia.

Prosecutors have reportedly been given information that an unknown number of adoptive parents from five countries, including Australia and the US, bought Brazilian babies for a price between $27,000 and $70,000, according to Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

The infants were said to be born to impoverished mothers who lived around John of God's compound, the newspaper reported.

Deals for the babies were allegedly brokered by guides, the name given to staunch John of God believers who live in Western countries and assist the travel plans for those wishing to visit the centre in Brazil.

Through his lawyer, Mr De Faria denied all accusations and stated there was no evidence to back up the claims. He has remained in custody since his arrest in December, and he is due to be questioned further by investigators today.

Thousands of Australians, many suffering terminal or debilitating illnesses, have journeyed to John of God's spiritual retreat Casa de Dom Inacio.

Mr Faria's critics have argued the faith healer is nothing more than a charlatan, fleecing the vulnerable for millions of dollars.

Oprah Winfrey famously visited Mr Faria in 2012 to feature him in an episode of her massively popular show syndicated worldwide. Afterwards, Mr Faria's questionable star rocketed to dangerous new heights.

According to 60 Minutes, Mr Faria's faith healing compound, which has also been visited by supermodel Naomi Campbell and Brazilian footballer Ronaldo, has made tens of millions of dollars.

Court documents show that John of God tried to withdraw nearly $12 million from his bank accounts before surrendering to police on December 16 on charges of rape.

Sabrina Bittencourt, the woman who brought the hundreds of sexual abuse claims to the attention of police, is currently in hiding and fears for her safety.

Ms Bittencourt was responsible for the recent baby trafficking and sexual enslavement allegations, last week alerting prosecutors in Sao Paolo to those claims.

According to Ms Bittencourt, local women received food for their families in return for getting pregnant.

It is unknown how many Australians, if any, could have bought a baby or been potentially abused by him.

An Australian Federal Police spokesperson told it would not be appropriate for the AFP to discuss an investigation being conducted by Brazilian police.

John of God has boasted he is blessed with healing powers from a divine "Entity". He has claimed the entity can cure the blind, the paraplegic, the cancer-stricken and other illnesses.

Mr De Faria has no medical qualifications but conducts crude and barbaric surgical procedures on those seeking his help.

A 60 Minutes investigation showed Mr De Faria using a scalpel to slice open people's backs and scrape away at their eyeballs, with no anaesthetic administered.

Other disturbing footage shows John of God shoving a pair of scissors down someone's nose.

Brazilian police say the investigations are complicated by the fact that many of the cases took place years ago. Current law gives victims six months to report cases of abuse.

One of the accusers is Mr Faria's adult daughter, Dalva Teixeira, who has called him a "monster".

Ms Teixeira said that under the pretense of mystical treatments he abused and raped her between the ages of 10 and 14.

She said her father stopped after she became pregnant by one of his employees.

With AP.

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