The Calgary Stampede and members of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the organization allowed a performance school staffer to sexually abuse young boys for decades have agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement.
A joint statement Tuesday said the representative plaintiff and the Stampede defendants – the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Ltd. and the Calgary Stampede Foundation – have reached a tentative resolution of $9.5 million for damages and costs.
“The resolution includes a commitment by the Stampede Defendants’ insurers to pay an all-inclusive amount of $9.5 million to settle the claims of Class Members,” the statement reads.
“It also includes a commitment to additional and enhanced measures and programs.”
The lawsuit was connected to Philip Heerema, who is serving a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to charges including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, making child pornography and luring in 2018.
Heerema admitted to using his position with the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts to lure six boys into sexual relationships between 1992 and 2014.
The Young Canadians is a performing arts group that performs nightly at the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show. The school is operated by the Calgary Stampede Foundation.
The Stampede insisted it didn’t hear of any problems until 2014, but victims cited evidence from Heerema’s criminal trial that allege concerns about him were reported to the Stampede authorities as early as 1988.
A partial settlement was announced in July and approved by Justice Alice Woolley in September, in which the Stampede had agreed to an admission of negligence and breach of duty, in addition to paying 100 per cent of the damages.
The settlement agreement is subject to court approval.
“If formally implemented, it is the parties’ hope that the resolution will provide impacted Class Members with a measure of closure and aid in the healing process,” the joint statement reads.
The parties involved in the lawsuit will be able to comment further on the specifics of the agreement after it has been approved in court.
With files from CTV News Calgary’s Teri Fikowski