A “spiritual leader” charged with sexual assault who has been operating out of St. Albert has been granted bail on his four charges.
On Friday afternoon John de Ruiter had a bail hearing for his four counts of sexual assault alleged by former members of his spiritual organization, the College of Integrated Philosophy.
De Ruiter was granted bail under the conditions that he provide a $30,000 cash deposit, stay away from the complainant and give up his passport. He is also not allowed any unsupervised contact with any women aside from his daughter, wife and roommate.
De Ruiter, 63, was arrested by the Edmonton Police and charged with sexually assaulting four people in separate incidents between 2017 and 2020. Police believe there may be additional complaints and encourage them to come forward.
De Ruiter, who was arrested on Saturday Jan. 21, is a self-styled spiritual leader of a group known as the College of Integrated Philosophy or the Oasis group, which operated out of the Oasis Building on 109 Ave and 177 St. from 2007 to 2021.
The leader is now holding his meetings in St. Albert, according to the Edmonton Police, as well as spiritual retreats out of a campground near Smith, Alta.
The police say it was reported that de Ruiter 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.
According to a Globe and Mail investigation into de Ruiter in 2017, he was born in Saskatchewan and grew up in Stettler, Alta., as one of four children of Dutch immigrants. De Ruiter eventually became a shoemaker, like his father. De Ruiter went to bible school and started preaching in a Lutheran church in Edmonton, where he clashed with church leadership, the Globe reported. He would deliver sermons for nine-hours straight and by the time he left the church, a small handful of people followed him.
De Ruiter is known for rarely addressing a whole group, but rather works with individuals in a one-on-one environment, according to his website.
Followers believe that gazing into his eyes allows de Ruiter to make intimate connections with strangers, read a Vice article on the religious leader.
But de Ruiter has been no stranger to past controversies, and in 2014 one of followers went missing and her body was found seven weeks later near Nordegg, where the group when on camping trips and survival training.
Anyone who believes they have been victimized by the accused is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.