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- A video on TikTok tries to tie talk show host Oprah Winfrey to child sex trafficking and abuse, but it takes her comments out of context.
A recent Facebook post, which describes talk show host Oprah Winfrey as a "satanic death cult high priestess," claims that she condones and promotes "pedophilia and sex trafficking."
As evidence, the post points to a TikTok that opens with a clip that shows Winfrey describing the confusing point of view of a seven-year-old child being physically molested and manipulated by their molester.
"Even if you don’t have a name for what that is, it feels good," Winfrey said, "And when I first said this years ago people were like, ‘you're crazy,’ because everyone wants to believe that it’s like sexual assault and you’re being thrown up against a wall and you’re being raped, and I have said for years if the abuser is any good, you won’t even know it’s happening."
The TikTok video was shared on Facebook, where it was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Winfrey’s comments are authentic, but they’ve been taken out of context. She wasn’t condoning or promoting the sexual assault of children — she was condeming it, and discussing how some children may not even realize they were being abused until years later because they were groomed by their abusers.
She made the comments during a 2019 HBO special called "After Neverland," in which she interviewed Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused singer Michael Jackson of sexually assaulting them as children. (Jackson’s estate has denied the allegations.)
Winfrey had previously said something similar when she talked to People magazine about being sexually abused when she was a child.
"It happened to me at 8, and then 10, and then 11, and then 12, 13, 14," she said. "You don’t have the language to begin to explain what’s happening to you. That’s why you feel you’re not going to be believed. And if the abuser, the molester, is any good, they will make you feel that you are complicit, that you were part of it. That’s what keeps you from telling."
The TikTok goes on to mention João Teixeira de Faria, better known as John of God, a Brazilian man accused in 2018 of sexually abusive behavior at his "healing center." Before those allegations emerged, he was the subject of a 2010 profile on Winfrey’s show, and she interviewed him at his center in 2012.
In a statement to the New York Times in the wake of the sexual abuse claims involving de Faria, Winfrey said: "I went to Brazil in 2012 to tape an episode of ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ that explored the controversial healing methods of John of God. The episode aired in 2013. I empathize with the women now coming forward and hope justice is served."
The TikTok also highlights Winfrey’s friendship with entertainment mogul and sex offender Harvey Weinstein. After news about allegations against Weinstein broke in 2017, Oprah wrote on Facebook that she was "processing the accounts of Harvey Weinstein’s hideous behavior" and that she hadn’t "been able to find the words to articulate the magnitude of the situation."
She also said: "Thanks to the brave voices we’ve heard this week, many more will now be emboldened to come forward EVERY time this happens."
But none of this amounts to evidence that Winfrey condones and promotes pedophilia and sex trafficking. To the contrary, she has repeatedly spoken out against it and, as is the case with "After Neverland," sought to raise awareness of its harms. We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, April 26, 2022
Facebook post, April 14, 2022
HBO, Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, 2019
RAINN, Grooming: Know the Warning Signs, July 10, 2020
CNN, Oprah Winfrey revisits Michael Jackson accusations with ‘After Neverland’, March 5, 2019
PolitiFact, No evidence Oprah helped Harvey Weinstein abuse women, March 11, 2021
BuzzFeed News, John Of God Was Once Hyped By Oprah. Now He's Accused Of Abusing Hundreds Of Women, Dec.14, 2018
The New York Times, Celebrity Healer in Brazil Is Accused of Sexually Abusing Followers, Dec. 11, 2018
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