A Brazilian celebrity faith healer facing rape and sexual abuse allegations from hundreds of women will face trial—a development that might serve to bolster the #MeToo movement in the country. A judge in Abadiania—the site of Joao Teixeira de Faria's spiritual center, where he claims to have performed miraculous surgeries without anesthesia or a medical license—on Wednesday accepted rape and sexual abuse charges brought against the 76-year-old by four women, paving the way for a trial date to be set, per the Guardian. Featured on Oprah's Next Chapter in 2013, Faria, also known as "John of God," denies the allegations by a Dutch choreographer who sought treatment from him for trauma tied to a prior sexual assault, as well as three anonymous women. Many more, including Faria's own daughter, claim to have suffered at his hands.
Per Reuters, four American women, three from Australia, and three from across Europe are among the accusers. "Even the (skeptical), like me, can be lulled into credulity by the John of God machine," Lancaster University lecturer Laura Premack writes at the Conversation, recalling her own meeting with Faria. "I watched him scrape a man's eyeball with a scalpel and I fainted." Had she not, Premack says she would've accepted a request for a private consultation because "what's the worst that could happen?" It was during such consultations at Faria's center, said to receive 10,000 visitors a month, that the healer is alleged to have abused more than 300 women beginning in the 1980s. He remains imprisoned following his arrest last month. "We're calm and believe justice will be served," his lawyer says, per the Guardian. (Much more on Faria here.)