According to police, Ruark would tell his young victims that he was helping them, guiding them into adulthood, by teaching them about sex and their bodies. Investigators say that was really happening, was a years-long series of criminal acts. Police say Ruark molested at least six victims and possible many more during his long tenure at St. Timothy Orthodox Church.
"There was some photographs that were taken, a lot of physical contact with various kids from the church, appears he targeted starting around 12 to 13 years of age," said Fairfield Police Lt. Greg Hurlbut.
The 65-year-old Ruark was arrested at his Suisun City home Thursday night. Police say he was suspended by church officials over the weekend after a youth director reporter she had heard complaints from young people about Ruark's behavior. Investigators say the abuse dates back to 1994. "He used his position here as a priest to make contact with these kids and convince them that these different things that he would do with them were normal and in the course of his duties and obligations as a pastor," Hurlbut said.
Police say the victims identified so far are all now adults and include three males and three females. Investigators believe the abuse occurred mostly inside the church, but also at Ruark's home and other locations. In a statement to ABC7 News, Saint Timothy Deacon John Dibs said, "We are obviously aware of the situation. It's a very difficult situation and we're doing our best to work through it."
Ruark is married and has children and grandchildren in the area. Before becoming a pastor, police say he investigated welfare fraud for Solano County. Detectives believe there may be many more victims. "We absolutely believe there's probably more out there. He's clearly been in contact with a lot of youth over the last 16 years. There's lots of reasons to believe his behavior was not restricted just to the six people that we've identified so far," Hurlbut said.
Police say Ruark may have been able to hide his behavior better than some other people because he had a background in investigations not only with the county welfare department, but before that, with the military. He will be arraigned Monday on multiple counts of sexual battery and child molestation.