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John and Leigh Ann de Ruiter to plead not guilty to sexual assault charges

A self-proclaimed spiritual leader and his wife will plead not guilty to sexual assault charges against them, their lawyer tells CTV News Edmonton.

John and Leigh Ann de Ruiter run a group known as the College of Integrated Philosophy, or the Oasis Group.

John de Ruiter is accused of sexually assaulting seven of the women in his group between 2012 and 2020.

His wife Leigh Ann is facing five counts of sexual assault.

Police told CTV News the five incidents were the same ones in which her husband has also been charged.

The couple will be tried together.

Dino Bottos, who represents the de Ruiters, spoke to CTV News Edmonton about the case on Thursday.

"This week, the de Ruiters elected to proceed by judge and jury and move this case to the Court of (King's) Bench of Alberta," Bottos said. "They will be entering pleas of not guilty and readying themselves for what will be a lengthy trial."

Bottos confirmed the pair remain out on bail but would not discuss the bail conditions.

"We do not intend to fight the charges in the court of public opinion, where people are apt to jump to conclusions based on rumour and gossip and the barest of information and sometimes misinformation," Bottos said.

"We'll do our talking in court."

A trial date has not yet been set for the case.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson and Sean Amato Top Stories

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