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Wife of Edmonton spiritual leader charged with three counts of sexual assault

College of Integrated Philosophy leader John de Ruiter was charged in January with four counts of sexual assault. On Tuesday, Edmonton police announced three charges against his wife, Leigh Ann de Ruiter.  (johnderuiter.com - image credit)
College of Integrated Philosophy leader John de Ruiter was charged in January with four counts of sexual assault. On Tuesday, Edmonton police announced three charges against his wife, Leigh Ann de Ruiter. (johnderuiter.com - image credit)

WARNING: This article contains details of alleged sexual abuse.

The wife of an Edmonton spiritual leader accused in January of sexually assaulting four of his followers has been arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault.

Leigh Ann de Ruiter, 64, is charged with three counts of sexual assault in connection with separate incidents between 2017 and 2020, Edmonton police said in a news release Tuesday.

Police said de Ruiter was arrested Monday. As of Tuesday afternoon she remained in custody.

According to court records, she is scheduled for a bail hearing Wednesday in Edmonton provincial court.

Leigh Ann de Ruiter is married to John de Ruiter, the leader of a group known as the College of Integrated Philosophy or the Oasis Group, which has been operating in Edmonton for decades.

CBC News has contacted Leigh Ann de Ruiter's lawyer and the Oasis Group about the allegations but has not received a response.

John de Ruiter, who was arrested by Edmonton police in January, is accused of assaulting four women in separate incidents between 2017 and 2020.

"It was reported that the accused informed certain female group members that he was directed by a spirit to engage in sexual activity with them, and that engaging in sexual activity with him will provide them an opportunity to achieve a state of higher being or spiritual enlightenment," Edmonton police said in a statement issued on Jan. 23.

Leigh Ann de Ruiter's charges stem from three of the same incidents, police said Tuesday.

Investigators believe there may be more complainants, and are encouraging them to come forward, police said.

Known by his followers simply as John, de Ruiter promises his followers spiritual enlightenment.

He holds regular spiritual retreats at a former campground near Smith, Alta., a purchase supported by donations from group members.

Followers also attend regular meetings at an office building in St. Albert, outside Edmonton.

John de Ruiter was granted bail in January under strict conditions including a prohibition that he not be alone with any female person except for his wife, daughters or immediate family members unless under the supervision of a responsible adult who is not his wife.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.