Two women who allege they were physically and sexually abused by former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong when he was a physical education teacher decades ago have filed lawsuits against him.
Beverly Mary Abraham and Grace Jessie West filed their notices of civil claim Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.
Mr. Furlong has not filed a response and the allegations have not been proven. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Furlong’s lawyer did not return phone and e-mail messages Wednesday seeking comment.
Communications firm TwentyTen Group issued a statement saying Mr. Furlong and his counsel would not comment because the matter is before the courts.
Allegations that Mr. Furlong abused several aboriginal students when he was a physical education teacher in Burns Lake, B.C., more than 40 years ago first surfaced in September in the alternative weekly newspaper the Georgia Straight. Mr. Furlong filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, as well as the article’s author, in November.
Ms. Abraham was quoted in the story. Ms. West was not.
In her notice of civil claim, Ms. Abraham, 55, said she attended Immaculata Roman Catholic Elementary School in 1969 and 1971. The court document said the school was owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince George and the Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George.
The three organizations are also named as defendants in the lawsuits. The Archdiocese of Vancouver said its lawyers had not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit, so it would be inappropriate to comment. The other two organizations did not return messages Wednesday.
Ms. Abraham’s notice of civil claim said she was molested approximately 12 times when she was about 11 years old. She said the touching occurred in the school gym, typically after class. She said Mr. Furlong would order her to stay behind and then close the gym door.
The notice of civil claim said Ms. Abraham’s parents told the three organizations about the physical and sexual abuse, but the groups failed to prevent it. The court document said the organizations were also aware Mr. Furlong was abusing other children, but did not act.
“The abuse of the plaintiff by John Furlong violated the plaintiff’s sexual integrity and caused her to suffer health and psychological problems and conditions, including anxiety and depressive conditions and difficulty forming appropriate and enduring sexual and emotional bonds,” the document said.
Ms. West, 53, said she was also molested, approximately once a week. She said in her notice of civil claim that she told her father about the abuse, and he confronted Mr. Furlong and the principal or senior administrator.
Ms. West said her father removed her from Immaculata and she attended school in Smithers, B.C., instead.
She also said Mr. Furlong kicked her in the buttocks almost every day, as well as in the legs and back. She said no one was around when this occurred, and accused Mr. Furlong of using racial epithets.
Ms. Abraham and Ms. West are seeking general and special damages, punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages, interest, costs, and “any and all other relief that may be just and fair.”
Mr. Furlong was the public face of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Games. His immigrant success story and motivational style had made him a star on the speaking circuit. But in his lawsuit in November, he said the story had caused “distress and embarrassment.” He also suffered financially because speaking engagements were cancelled after the story appeared, the lawsuit alleges.
Several people close to Mr. Furlong sprung to his defence after the allegations first arose.
In a statement in January, his five children and two former spouses issued a statement that said the allegations were without merit and “portray a character whom none of us recognizes.”