Self-proclaimed spiritual leader John de Ruiter is charged with sex crimes
John de Ruiter has been leading a spiritual community in Canada for decades
A messianic leader of a multi-million dollar spiritual organization in western Canada has been charged with four counts of sexual assault.
John de Ruiter, 63, has run Edmonton’s College of Integrated Philosophy for decades, avoiding controversy and accusations of leading a cult.
A representative for Mr de Ruiter told the BBC in a statement that he would contest the charges in court.
He will return to college this week, according to the group’s website.
Police in Edmonton, Alberta, said they arrested Mr. de Ruiter – who they describe as a “self-proclaimed spiritual leader” – and accused him of sexually assaulting four women in separate incidents between 2012 and 2020.
According to police reports, Mr. de Ruiter told certain female members of his group that “he was taught by a spirit to engage in sexual activity with them and that sexual activity with him would give them the opportunity to achieve a state of a higher being.” or spiritual enlightenment”.
The Police believe that there may be other victims and have asked them to come out.
Zaba Walker, a spokesman for Mr de Ruiter, said in an email to the BBC that he is being represented by a lawyer “and intends to contest these allegations vigorously in court”.
“This situation has a big impact on those who know Mr de Ruiter,” she said.
According to the group’s website, planned events with Mr. de Ruiter, starting this weekend, including face-to-face meetings in St. Albert and Edmonton, will go ahead as planned.
Mr. de Ruiter, whose first name is Johannes, grew up in rural Alberta and worked as a shoemaker and small shepherd before developing his own teaching.
He described himself as “the living embodiment of truth” and challenged his thousands of devoted followers to give meaning to life through “honesty that separates.” The head of the college, Mr de Ruiter, is not trained or certified as a psychologist or therapist.
He became known for weekly meetings where he would stare at his followers in silence for long periods of time.
The exact number of his followers – some of whom have gone abroad to join his community – is not clear.
In 2017, an investigation by The Globe and Mail newspaper included interviews with several followers of Mr de Ruiter who questioned his sexual relationship with some of his female followers. According to The Globe, Mr de Ruiter’s son, Nicolas, posted on the internet about his father’s sexual relations with married women in his community.
Mr. de Ruiter told his son he had a “knowledge” that he was destined “to be in purposeful sexual relationships with a range of women,” the Globe reported.
On Mr de Ruiter’s website, a frequently asked questions page includes a ‘controversies’ section.
“There is some extreme criticism of John de Ruiter, isn’t there?” A question arises.
The post says, “John does not and does not use sex as a means of control or submission over a person.”