CALGARY – A longtime employee of a performance group that entertains each year at the Calgary Stampede has pleaded not guilty to 20 charges related to child sex abuse.
A trial for Philip Heerema, who is 55, has begun on charges that include sexual assault and child pornography.
Police began investigating in January 2014 after they received a complaint from a student and his parents of an inappropriate relationship with a “person of authority” in The Young Canadians troupe.
Investigators said that after the initial complaint was made, other men came forward, who were all between 15 and 18 years old at the time of the alleged offences.
Crown prosecutor Martha O’Connor says Heerema used his position as the business manager to commit sexual assault against one-time students from The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts.
The trial is scheduled to last for four weeks.