Class action lawsuit in works in Calgary Young Canadians sex abuse case

CALGARY — A law firm is encouraging victims in a sex abuse case to be part of a lawsuit against the man convicted of the crimes and the Calgary Stampede Foundation.

On Wednesday, Philip Heerema was sentenced to 10 years after earlier pleading guilty to charges that included sexual assault, sexual exploitation, luring and making child pornography.

The six victims were youths between the ages of 15 and 17 who attended The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts.

In a statement of claim filed last year and amended in January, JSS Barristers is seeking court approval to launch a class action lawsuit against Heerema and the foundation, which operates the school.

The claim alleges Heerema, who worked for decades with the school, breached his duty as an educator by sexually abusing the students and alleges the foundation is vicariously liable because it was aware of his conduct.

Statements of claim contain allegations that have not been proven in court.

“The Young Canadians had actual knowledge of Heerema’s inappropriate conduct, allegations of sexual assault and sexual exploitation with respect to some of the class members as a result of one or more complaints made by one or more faculty members of the Young Canadians,” reads the claim.

Foundation officials were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year Warren Connell, CEO of the foundation, told Global News it had no knowledge of the some of the allegations in the lawsuit and refuted others.

The lawsuit, which has not yet been certified, is seeking general and special damages to be determined by the court.

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