Calgary

Young Canadians official Philip Heerema granted bail

A man who held various jobs with the high-profile performance group The Young Canadians has been charged with a variety of sex offences.

Young singers, dancers regularly perform on Calgary Stampede grandstand stage

Phillip Heerema, who worked with The Young Canadians, has been charged with sexual assaults involving teens. (CBC)

A man who held various jobs with the high-profile performance group The Young Canadians has been released on $2,000 bail after being charged with a variety of sex offences.

Philip Heerema, 52, has been charged with:

  • Three counts related to child pornography.
  • Two counts of sexual assault.
  • Six counts of child luring via computer.
  • Two counts of inciting sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.

The seven alleged victims were boys involved with The Young Canadians, between the ages of 15 and 18 at the time of the incidents, which date back to 1997. 

Bail conditions include no contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless another adult is present, no use of mobile devices, computers or Internet other than for work, and no contact with anyone involved with the Young Canadians or the Calgary Stampede.

"He was put in a position of trust with the performers," said Staff Sgt. Melanie Oncescu.

Stampede responds

The Young Canadians regularly perform during the Calgary Stampede grandstand show and are part of the Stampede organization.

"The Young Canadians were made aware and I believe they did their own information sharing in relation to this event," said Oncescu. "Like I said, this investigation began a year ago, so many people within the organization have been spoken to."

Kurt Kadatz, the community engagement and communications director for the Calgary Stampede, says the organization is "shocked and saddened" by the situation.

He says the Stampede was made aware of "serious allegations of inappropriate communications between this administrative employee of the program and students," in January, 2014.

Within 30 minutes of hearing the allegations, Kadatz says Heerema was suspended, removed from the premises and directed "to not have any further communication with anyone involved in the program."

Heerema quit two days later after 36  years with the Young Canadians organization.

He is back in court on July 8.

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