Twelve women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against world-famous Brazilian medium and spiritual healer João de Deus (John of God). According to the victims, he abused them when they sought spiritual healing in the House of Dom Inácio de Loyola, in Abadiânia (GO), where thousands of people from all over the world go searching for spiritual treatments and counseling to every week.
The cases were first reported by news articles in newspaper O Globo and in a special episode of TV Globo's late-night talk show "Conversa com Bial."
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According to O Globo's piece, 12 women reported unwanted sexual advances from De Deus. The reporters spoke to six of them,
"Conversa com Bial's" host Pedro Bial and reporter Camila Appel also interview 10 of those women and heard similar accounts. The talk show only showed four of them, because of time constraints.
The show featured three Brazilian women, who asked to remain anonymous, and Dutch choreographer Zahira Lieneke Mous, the only victim who agreed to go on record entirely.
Mous said that her first went to Abadiânia's healing center in 2014 when she sought help healing the trauma from previous sexual abuses.
After extensive research, Mous said she felt comfortable traveling alone to Goiás. In her second visit to the healing center, she was told she had been chosen to have a private consultation with João de Deus. "You feel special," she said.
Mous described, among tears, that during the first consultation, the psychic first asked why she was there. Then, he came close and smelled her skin, and asked her to stand with her back facing him and led her to a bathroom.
He then placed her hands on his genitals, moving them in stroking motions. After the abuse was over, he opened a cabinet filled with gemstones and asked Mous to pick one. Then she was led back to the bathroom, and João de Deus forced her to have anal sex.
The choreographer told Bial that she didn't run and scream because she believed she could be trained as a medium to help other people. The show displayed a photograph of Mous during her time at Abadiânia's healing center, in which she was assisting John of God in his healing sessions, which was considered a great privilege.
After she left Abadiânia, Mous realized the seriousness of what had happened to her but kept in self-denial for the following four years.
"I was terrified of them sending bad spirits in my directions, wrecking my life; that I would not be able to sleep," she said.
After a while, Zahira understood that she needed to deal with this and other traumas, and shared her story on a Facebook post.
Sitting next to Bial, she heard other women's stories and realized that the cases follow a pattern. The victims say that first they were chosen for private consultations, treated as if they were unique, and taken to a room accessible by a side door within the healing center's main building. João de Deus's offers of crystals and gemstones after the abuses were another common practice, according to the testimonies.
One of the Brazilian women said that she sought the medium after a breast cancer treatment in 2017. Fragilized from the medical procedures, she first underwent a public spiritual surgery, but when she returned for a follow-up consultation, she was called into the side room. There, João de Deus told her that she was almost cured, but that she still needed further treatment to remove the tumor for good.
João de Deus told her not to tell anyone what was about to happen and the sexual abuse started.
The woman described how the medium told her to stay with her back facing him, as he proceeded to touch her all over her body. He also asked her to rub her hips with her hands and take deep breaths. He said she had too much energy and that he would heal her. Then he laid his penis against her buttocks and started to breathe heavily.
The victim said she was distressed, but she was afraid to yell something and afterward be assaulted by the thousands of believers that were outside the center waiting for their turn in the healing sessions. She then told João de Deus she was feeling uncomfortable with his behavior and he told her to go.
"He said that he was doing everything in his powers to help my family and me, but I was uncooperative. Also, that the disease would be coming back."
Another Brazilian woman saw the psychic for the first time in 2009, searching for a cure for her son's sight problem. She returned several times, and in 2013 she sought spiritual help after divorcing her husband. According to her account, she was assigned a special energy cleanse in João de Deus' private room, and he took her to the bathroom and placed her with her back facing him. He then put her hands in his genitals. In another occasion, the medium sat in a chair and requested oral sex.
After these episodes, she returned to the healing center accompanied by a male relative and João de Deus wasn't happy to see that. She also said she only realized that she was sexually abused after hearing other victim's narrative. She told Bial it was tough to tell the story of her abuses, but she wanted to avoid the same happening to other people.
The third Brazilian victim said she went to Abadiânia to treat her depression. Some friends recommended the center, and she went there twice, in 2014 and 2015. She underwent a spiritual surgery on the first visit but saw no improved. The second time, she noticed João de Deus staring at her while she was standing in line for treatment.
After practically pushing away a sick female follower who knelt to greet him, he went to the woman, took her hand and invited her to the "special" room, as he continued to stare at her.
Once inside the side room, he locked the door and told the victim he dreamed of her. He also placed her hands on his penis and said the woman she was strong and was doing a good thing. He invited her to lunch and afterward committed further abuses, saying that the treatments to clean her chakras, and then the spiritual entities request secrecy about what was happening.
João de Deus' press representative sent the following statement to "Conversa com Bial": "For 44 years, João de Deus served thousands of people in Abadiânia, doing good deeds through spiritual healings. Despite not being informed of any details regarding this news piece, he vehemently rejects any improper practice during his consultations. "
The press representative told O Globo newspaper that the accusations were "false and fanciful," questioning why the victims didn't seek the police. The representative also said that the whole situation is "regrettable since Medium João is a person with a spotless character."
Folha contacted João de Deus' representatives but so far received no response.