A Brazilian spiritual healer known as João de Deus, or John of God, has received his first jail sentence on Thursday following a deluge of allegations of sexual abuse since the end of last year.
According to a court statement, a judge in Goias state issued a 19-year and four-month sentence for four violations of different women. Lawyers for 77-year-old João de Deus said they’re going to appeal the decision in a statement.
João Teixeira de Faria drew people from all over the world to his small city, Brasilia, two hours west of the capital, with assurances that he could cure everything from depression to cancer, and took care of up to 10,000 patients a week. Hundreds of women, including his daughter, allegedly committed violence on a regular basis, ranging from groping to rape.
In 2012, even Oprah Winfrey visited João de Deus to interview him for her talk show and called him “inspiring.” After the allegations emerged, Winfrey issued a statement saying she sympathized with the alleged victims and wished they would be brought to justice. João de Deus is facing additional cases involving 10 sex crimes, according to the court’s statement.