The Brazilian lead investigator in the case of a religious sect leader sought on sex charges by the U.S. government says the support of a Brazilian woman described as a longtime friend helped him elude authorities in the middle of a manhunt.

The chief of federal police in the Rio Grande do Norte state Kandy Takahashi says the 33-year-old woman was friends with the self-professed minister Victor Arden Barnard for more than 10 years.

Takahashi said Wednesday that the woman offered Barnard protection and housing, adding that she faces charges of aiding a fugitive following his Friday capture. The investigator says there is no indication the woman was a victim.

Barnard was charged last April for allegedly having sex with two girls at his sect north of Minneapolis.