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Spiritual leader's wife charged with sexual assault accuses police of taking cell phone without warrant

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The wife of an Edmonton spiritual leader who is accused of sexual assault has a new lawyer.

Zachary Al-Khatib appeared in court on Wednesday on Leigh Ann de Ruiter's behalf, arguing for the return of de Ruiter’s cell phone.

“One of the things that happened when she was arrested was that her cell phone was seized from her,” Al-Khatib told CTV News Edmonton outside of the provincial courthouse.

He argued the phone was taken without a warrant.

“No warrant has been provided for that seizure. That warrant is a judicial authorization, it lets the public know that a judge has signed off and permitted the police to take the phone. That information has not been provided,” he said.

“The fact that she’s not even been given a legal basis for her phone being taken away and it’s in police custody right now and not being released to her is extremely concerning,” he added.

Leigh Ann de Ruiter is married to John de Ruiter, leader of the Oasis Group based in Edmonton.

He’s accused of sexually assaulting four people in separate incidents between 2017 and 2020.

Leigh Ann is charged with three counts of sexual assault, which police say are three of the same incidents as her husband.

Both are out on bail with a number of conditions.

Leigh Ann’s next court appearance is on April 12.

“We’re left to wait,” said Al-Khatib. “The crown has been given another two weeks to provide disclosure.”

In April, he hopes the Crown will provide a legal basis for the seizure of his client’s phone.

“It may be that we have to ask another judge to make the crown give that basis or provide the phone back to her.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon