Calgary man facing sex charges involving Young Canadians performance group

A longtime administrator with The Young Canadians performance group at the Calgary Stampede is facing sexual charges dating back to the 1990s involving several teenage performers.

CALGARY — A longtime administrator with The Young Canadians performance group at the Calgary Stampede is facing sexual charges dating back to the 1990s involving several teenage performers.

Philip Heerema, 52, faces 13 charges that include child pornography, sexual assault, luring a child via a computer and inciting sexual contact with a youth.

The Young Canadians performance school involves 120 students from the Calgary area. They train to deliver public performances, most notably during the grandstand shows at the Calgary Stampede.

Police say they received a complaint from a student and his parents in January 2014 of an inappropriate relationship with a “person of authority” with the troupe.

“The investigation began with one victim coming forward initially and, as our investigators conducted their interviews, more people were identified and spoken to,” Staff-Sgt. Melanie Oncescu said Friday.

As a result, there are now seven alleged victims, she said.

One of the complaints dates back to 1997. All seven complainants are male and were between the ages of 15 and 18 at the time of the alleged encounters.

“The offences took place in Calgary — some off site and some on site.”

Heerema worked with The Young Canadians for 36 years. He resigned after the investigation began, but was listed on the school’s website as business administrator and production services co-ordinator.

A cached profile from the troupe’s website details how Heerema worked with the program in many areas including costuming, props, sets and lighting.

“Acting as trainer, Phil consults and co-ordinates physical therapy to The Young Canadians cast. He joins the rest of the TYC staff and crew in making sure the show goes on and that the cast enjoys a quality experience with the program.”

Oncescu said he was in a position of authority.

“Whether he’d be a coach or someone within management within the organization he was put in a position of trust with the performers.”

Officials with the Calgary Stampede said the organization is “shocked and saddened” by the news.

“In late January 2014 a student and a parent approached us with serious allegations of inappropriate communications between an administrative employee of the program and some students,” said Kurt Kadatz, director of community engagement and communications.

“Within 30 minutes of becoming aware of that allegation we suspended the employee. We removed him from the premises and directed him not to communicate with anyone involved with the program.”

Kadatz said the Stampede immediately began its own investigation and contacted the parents of the students to inform them about what was happening.

Oncescu said it’s possible more alleged victims will come forward.

“The Young Canadians were made aware — and I believe they’ve done their own information sharing in relation to this event — in hopes that if there were any other people they would come forward.”

Just Posted

Climate change’s impact on outdoor hockey discussed in Red Deer

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance held a forum Friday at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Collision between Red Deer transit bus and truck investigated by RCMP

No one on bus was hurt, truck driver had minor injuries

Eckville man facing about 80 child sexual exploitation charges in court

More than half a million photos and videos found on electronic devices

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Red Deer woman wins $1 million in lottery

A Red Deer woman spent $5 on a lottery ticket and became… Continue reading

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Special evaluations can help seniors cope with cancer care

Before she could start breast cancer treatment, Nancy Simpson had to walk… Continue reading

Home renovator Mike Holmes oversees reno for paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player

AIRDRIE, Alta. — One of Canada’s most recognizable home renovators has acted… Continue reading

The endless war against invasive species

Group looks to protect native ecological environments in Alberta

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Flyers, Blackhawks, Sabres and Lightning to Europe in ‘19-20

Jakub Voracek was psyched at the mere suggestion the Philadelphia Flyers might… Continue reading

Danish receiver Nielsen looking to defy the odds again, this time at CFL combine

TORONTO — He’s coming to the CFL’s national combine as a definite… Continue reading

Mom with kids on YouTube channel suspected of child abuse

MARICOPA, Ariz. — A woman who operated a popular YouTube channel featuring… Continue reading

Most Read