News / Calgary

Former Young Canadians worker on trial for sex abuse to plead guilty

Philip Heerema, 55, is expected to enter a guilty plea on Tuesday; he faces 20 charges that include sexual assault, sexual exploitation, child pornography and luring.

An entrance to the Calgary Courts Centre is shown in Calgary on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Court has heard a former longtime employee of a Calgary children's performance group who is on trial for sex offences will plead guilty.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

An entrance to the Calgary Courts Centre is shown in Calgary on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Court has heard a former longtime employee of a Calgary children's performance group who is on trial for sex offences will plead guilty.

CALGARY — Court has heard that a former longtime employee of a Calgary young people's performance group who is on trial for sex offences will plead guilty.

His lawyer told court Philip Heerema will enter a guilty plea on Tuesday.

Heerema, who is 55, faces 20 charges that include sexual assault, sexual exploitation, child pornography and luring.

The alleged encounters are believed to have occurred while Heerema was at The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts in Calgary between 1992 and 2013.

The alleged victims were male students between 15 and 18 years old at the time.

The trial has heard over the last two weeks from several men who said Heerema convinced them to send him explicit photos.

One man said he felt trapped after exchanging naked photos with Heerema.

"I couldn't talk to anyone about what was happening because then Phil would presumably get in trouble and that wouldn't be good for anyone," the man testified.

He eventually told a family member what had happened and went to police.

The school works with students between 11 and 18 years old in dance, voice and performance. Training culminates in grandstand shows during the Calgary Stampede every July.

Heerema spent 36 years with The Young Canadians. He started out as a performer and took on a number of jobs that included costuming, props, sets and lighting.  He was business administrator and production services co-ordinator when he resigned after a police investigation began in 2014.

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