More than 300 women have accused Brazilian faith healer João Teixeira de Faria of sexually abusing them, according to Brazil’s state media agency, citing the Department of Public Ministry of the state of Goiás.
The women, from countries around the world, were seeking spiritual healing, the statement says. The accusations first aired December 7 on the Globo TV program “Conversa com Bial,” during which 10 people came forward with their allegations.
At least 335 people have contacted the Department of Public Ministry with accusations. But André Fernandes, civil police superintendent in Goiás, said authorities have only received 15 formal complaints so far. Prosecutors say the allegations against Teixeira include rape.
“They are very compelling statements, very precise, over two hours of interview, with all possible details, all the circumstances,” Fernandes said.
Teixeira’s attorney, Alberto Toron, said his client is innocent.
A court ordered Teixeira’s arrest Friday at the request of state prosecutors. He turned himself in to authorities Sunday without incident and was accompanied by his two defense attorneys, said Fernandes, who was present when Teixeira was taken into custody.
Teixeira, 76, is in jail, police in Goiás said. Agencia Brasil reporter Alex Rodrigues told CNN Teixeira is being held in isolation, away from other prisoners. According to Brazil state media, police said Teixeira went through a “long negotiation” to surrender.
Toron said in a Sunday news release that he would ask authorities to allow Teixeira to serve his pretrial prison order at home because of his health and age. Toron said his client takes medicine to lower his blood pressure. He also said his client is a cancer survivor.
Teixeira gained worldwide fame after Oprah interview
Teixeira, who is not a trained doctor, says he calls on the spirits of dead doctors while performing so-called spiritual surgeries and treatments, sometimes using medical instruments to cut his patients without anesthesia.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 people of all nationalities come to see Teixeira every week, according to his spiritual center, Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola, located in Goiás.
In 2013, Teixeira, who is also known as “John of God,” gained international fame after an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey has since removed the interview from her website.
“I empathize with the women now coming forward and hope justice is served,” Winfrey said in a statement.
Teixeira last appeared in public at his Dom Inacio de Loyola Center on Wednesday, where he gave a short speech proclaiming his innocence.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Sebastian Espinosa and journalist Marcia Reverdosa contributed to this report.