Edmonton playwright charged with child porn

EDMONTON — A prominent member of Edmonton’s theatre community has been charged with possession of child pornography.

David Belke, 56, has worked for years as a playwright in the city, as well as working as a substitute teacher. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 6.

An investigation by ALERT Internet Child Exploitation and Edmonton police began in late February after photos and videos involving children were found on a computer that had been dropped off at a shop for repairs.

A search warrant was obtained and investigators discovered what they called a “significant amount of child exploitation material and child porn.” Police say the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible.

Belke was arrested March 17 and released on a number of conditions, including that he not work or volunteer in any location where it could be reasonably foreseen that a person 16 years of age or under may be present.

Belke has been a mainstay of the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival for many years, noting on his website that he had written a new work every year for 20 consecutive years.

He has won numerous Sterling Awards — handed out annually for the best in Edmonton theatre — and seen his plays including “The Maltese Bodkin” and “Blackpool and Parrish” produced on stages across Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Greece and the United States.

He has served as Alberta regional representative for the national council of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and as vice-president of the board for Alberta Playwrights Network.

Up until the end of February, Belke had been a playwright at Shadow Theatre for 25 years, but he resigned at the end of February.

The president of Shadow Theatre was shocked at the charge.

“This is entirely unexpected, for us, this caught us all out of left field,” Donal O’Beirne said, saying the organization learned of the charge Tuesday when ALERT released details publicly.

O’Beirne said he hadn’t heard from Belke since he resigned.

Officials with Edmonton Public Schools said Belke no longer works for the district, and said his employment ended as soon as school officials were made aware of the investigation.


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