Young Cana­di­ans worker ad­mits to sex charges

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS | WEATHER -

A man who had many roles in his 36 years with a Cal­gary young peo­ple’s per­for­mance group has ad­mit­ted to eight sex-re­lated charges.

Philip Heerema’s trial on 20 charges was al­ready into its third week when he pleaded guilty on Tues­day. The rest of the charges were stayed. Heerema, 55, re­signed in 2014 from The Young Cana­di­ans School of Per­form­ing Arts in Cal­gary when po­lice be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing sev­eral com­plaints.

The al­leged vic­tims were male stu­dents be­tween 15 and 18 years old who were at the school be­tween 1992 and 2013.

The trial had heard from sev­eral men who said Heerema con­vinced them to send him ex­plicit pho­tos.

One man said he felt trapped after ex­chang­ing naked pho­tos with Heerema.

“I couldn’t talk to any­one about what was hap­pen­ing be­cause then Phil would pre­sum­ably get in trou­ble and that wouldn’t be good for any­one,” the man tes­ti­fied.

He even­tu­ally told a fam­ily mem­ber what had hap­pened and went to po­lice.

The school works with stu­dents be­tween 11 and 18 years old in dance, voice and per­for­mance. Train­ing cul­mi­nates in grand­stand shows dur­ing the Cal­gary Stam­pede ev­ery July.

Heerema started out as a per­former with The Young Cana­di­ans and took on a num­ber of jobs that in­cluded cos­tum­ing, props, sets and light­ing. He was busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tor and pro­duc­tion ser­vices co-or­di­na­tor when he re­signed.

He is to be sen­tenced on May 1 fol­low­ing a psy­chi­atric as­sess­ment.

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