By Maria Carolina Marcello
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police on Thursday requested that a popular faith healer face criminal charges related to accusations by hundreds of women that he sexually assaulted or raped them.
João Teixeira de Faria, known as "John of God," became a celebrity after his healing methods were featured on Oprah Winfrey's television show in 2013. He drew thousands of Brazilians and foreigners to his spiritual centre in the small town of Abadiânia, in the central Brazilian state of Goiás.
Andre Fernandes, the chief of civil police in Goiás, confirmed that police had requested that prosecutors issue charges against Faria, who was arrested on Sunday following the allegations. He has denied the accusations.
"Strong evidence exists that he committed the crimes," Fernandes told Reuters.
State prosecutors told Reuters last week they had been contacted by hundreds of women alleging that the 76-year-old committed a variety of sexual crimes.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by James Dalgleish)