Ten former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship church say they have been contacted by U.S. federal and state authorities investigating allegations of abuse, forced labor and visa fraud after a series of Associated Press stories about the evangelical sect.
Brazilian authorities told the AP they also are looking into claims that the church was illegally sending minors to the U.S. and forcing them to work.
In February, the AP reported that 43 former members said congregants were regularly punched and choked in an effort to "purify" sinners by beating out devils. This week, young laborers told the news service the church brought them to the U.S. and forced them to work for little or no pay.
Word of Faith Fellowship has not responded to repeated requests for comment.