Abadiânia Becomes Ghost Town after Arrest of Spiritual Leader João de Deus

Visitors reached 2,000 per day before arrest and today are no more than 150

Natália Cancian Pedro Ladeira

In the year since reports of sexual abuse emerged against João Teixeira de Faria, João de Deus, 77, his adopted city, Abadiânia (GO), has become an abandoned village. João de Deus housed his spiritual hospital in the town.

The daily rate, which once reached R$ 200, now ranges between R$ 50 and R$ 110. Remaining traders say that the movement fell around 70%. Mayor José Aparecido Diniz (PP) estimates that 1,200 jobs have been lost.

Abadiânia, in Goiás (Foto: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress, PODER) - Folhapress

As a result, the unemployment rate increased from 10% to 20%. "We have not had financial difficulties, but we still need to struggle on the job issue," he said.

For Englishwoman Chiara Carcianiga, 55, who has been visiting the city since 2011, the situation is an "opportunity for spiritual development." She was one of the few tourists sitting on benches in front of the inns.

"It's true that the city is empty, but it's phases. I'm sure this place will be a spiritual center again."

On December 19, the Justice of Goiás sentenced João de Deus to 19 years and four months of prison, under a closed regime, for sexual crimes.

The prosecutor says it has received 350 reports of sexual abuse. The first is from 1973, the last from 2018. There were 13 complaints referred to the courts.

The medium has been in prison since December last year at the Aparecida Prison Complex of Goiânia. He denies the charges. 

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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