A top health official in B.C.’s Interior declined to comment to Global News as he was released from police custody, following charges for alleged child sex crimes.
Dr. Albert de Villiers was released from the Kelowna RCMP detachment on Wednesday afternoon following a brief court appearance via telephone at the Kelowna courthouse.
“No comment. At this stage, I would like to talk to my lawyer first,” he said.
Alberta RCMP said Dr. Albert de Villiers, 52, was arrested in Kelowna on Tuesday on one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference.
Mounties received a report of sexual offences against a child on May 28, 2021, for incidents that allegedly happened between 2018 and 2020.
“The Grande Prairie RCMP special investigative unit initiated an investigation into the allegations with assistance from the Grande Prairie Caribou Centre,” RCMP said Tuesday night.
De Villiers was set free on a release order by consent, in the amount of $1,500, with conditions.
He cannot be in the presence of anyone under the age of 16, or attend public locations, such as parks, where children may be located, unless with an approved person.
De Villiers must also surrender his travel documents.
His next court appearance is scheduled for June 30 in Grande Prairie.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
De Villiers was the chief medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) and assumed the role in August 2020.
He became a high-profile figure as he participated in weekly media briefings to lead the region through the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, B.C. health minister Adrian Dix said the health authority’s response to the pandemic would not be hindered by the shocking allegations.
Dr. Sue Pollock has been appointed interim chief medical health officer.
Interior Health and B.C.’s health ministry has not responded to inquiries about de Villiers’ employment status.
His name, however, has been removed from the health authority’s website.
De Villiers was the north zone lead medical health officer with Alberta Health Services, based in Grande Prairie, at the time of the alleged offences, according to his LinkedIn page.
He spent 16 years in that position, from January 2004 to July 2020, before leaving his post.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) declined to comment on Wednesday, citing the ongoing legal proceedings.
— With files from Jules Knox
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