December 16, 2018 / 7:50 PM / 10 months ago

Brazil faith healer accused of sexual abuse turns himself in

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Brazilian faith healer who was accused of sexual abuse by more than 300 women has turned himself in a day after being officially ruled a fugitive, local news media reported on Sunday.

João Teixeira de Faria, known as “John of God” and who became a celebrity when Oprah Winfrey broadcast a report on his healing methods in 2013, surrendered to authorities in a roadway in Abadiânia, several news outlets said. Since 1976, he has led a spiritual centre in Abadiânia, a small town in the central Brazilian state of Goiás.

Representatives for Faria and police could not be immediately reached for comment.

A judge on Friday had issued an arrest warrant for Faria giving until 2 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday to surrender. After he failed to report to authorities, Faria was officially ruled a fugitive.

Faria drew thousands of Brazilians and foreigners to his spiritual centre in Abadiânia.

Faria denied the accusations on Thursday when he visited his centre and spoke to a crowd of followers. His lawyer on Saturday said Faria would turn himself in and file an appeal on Monday.

Faria, 76, could face charges of rape, with a prison sentence of 10 years if convicted, and rape of a vulnerable person, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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