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Parole hearing scheduled for man convicted in sex crimes against Young Canadians

A parole hearing is scheduled today for a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for decades of sex offences against members of a young people’s performance group.

Philip Heerema pleaded guilty to eight charges in 2018, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, luring and making child pornography, after his trial had already entered its third week.

Heerema resigned in 2014 from The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts in Calgary when police began investigating several complaints.

The six victims were male students between the ages of 15 and 17 who were at the school between 1992 and 2013.

The school works with students between the ages of 11 and 18, and their training in music and dance culminates with grandstand shows during the Calgary Stampede every July.

During sentencing, the judge said Heerema “identified, targeted, relentlessly pursued and groomed” the young men who were especially talented and vulnerable.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2024.

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