Silence. The word, repeated exhaustively as an order in pictures and posters hanging on walls at Casa Dom Inácio de Loyola, in Abadiânia (GO) describes what part of the small town's 15,000 residents have been going through since the press reported several allegations of sexual abuse involving João de Deus (John of God), one of Brazil's most famous psychics.
On the streets, few people talk freely about the scandal, since the town's economy relies heavily on the activities of Casa Dom Inácio, João de Deus spiritual healing center, open since 1976. They say they are afraid of retaliation and also because the medium hasn't talked about it yet.
- Twelve Women Accuse Medium John Of God Of Sexual Abuse
- Psychic Denies Allegations
- "He's The One Who Should Feel Ashamed, Not Me"
On Saturday (8th), 13 women told newspaper O Globo and TV Globo's late night talk show "Conversa com Bial" that the psychic had been sexually abused them during spiritual healing sessions in his private quarters inside Casa Dom Inácio, where more than a thousand people pass every week, from Wednesdays to Fridays.
The news reports changed Abadiânia's routine. On Sunday (9th) morning, tourists and residents were feeling unsettled.
While the healing center tried to keep business as usual, Brazilian and foreign visitors who traveled to Abadiânia seeking spiritual guidance were divided between the ones defending João de Deus and others concerned with the allegations.
"Until that moment, everything was fine. But when we saw the news on TV, it got us thinking: what if he is a charlatan?" said Demir Ali Selen 28, who flew from Turkey with his uncle and aunt to seek treatment for his three-year-old nephew, who has brain cancer. "It's hard to learn about those cases knowing we took over 24 hours only to come here from our country."
Even with all the uncertainty, the boy's mother, homemaker Sibel Ozture, 42, says she's planning to administer the spiritual treatment recommended at the center, along with the medications and other procedure.
Workers of hotels and bed and breakfasts of Abadiânia say that the real impact of the news reports will be felt more clearly on next Wednesday when the next batch of scheduled consultations with João de Deus should happen.
João de Deus press representative didn't pick up Folha's telephone calls nor replied to messages.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV