The RCMP remains tight-lipped as it investigates abuse allegations against John Furlong – but two of the men who have accused the former Vancouver Olympics CEO of assaulting them say they have yet to hear from police.
The accusations against Mr. Furlong arose publicly last month. The abuse is alleged to have occurred decades ago, during Mr. Furlong’s previously undisclosed time in the northern B.C. community of Burns Lake. Several people have accused Mr. Furlong of abusing them while they were students and he was a physical-education instructor.
Mr. Furlong has denied the accusations and said he “cared deeply for the students.” The allegations have not been proven.
The RCMP issued a brief statement the day the accusations surfaced and said the force was investigating. It has not provided further details, such as when the investigation began, or its scope. A spokesman said in an e-mail on Thursday the investigation is “ongoing.”
Ronnie Alec, who has said Mr. Furlong would kick him in the back and strike him in the head, said in an interview on Thursday investigators have not contacted him. “I’ve heard nothing yet. No RCMP [have] come and knocked on my door,” he said.
Wilf Adam, Lake Babine Nation Chief, also said he has not been contacted by RCMP, nor is he aware of anyone who has since the allegations arose. Mr. Adam has said Mr. Furlong once kicked him for calling a teacher by his first name, and alleged that he witnessed other students being slapped and kicked.
The allegations against Mr. Furlong first appeared in the alternative weekly newspaper Georgia Straight in a story by freelance journalist Laura Robinson. Mr. Furlong has said he plans to sue the publication and the journalist. A spokeswoman for Mr. Furlong said on Thursday that he has not yet filed a suit. Ms. Robinson has said she plans to countersue because Mr. Furlong suggested she didn’t perform due diligence.
Mr. Furlong called a news conference hours after the story broke and categorically denied “any wrongdoing.” He did not take questions.
Mr. Furlong had suggested his time in Canada started in 1974. Ms. Robinson’s story, however, said he had been there in 1969.
Mr. Furlong initially said he didn’t disclose his time in Burns Lake because it was “fairly brief and fairly uneventful,” despite the fact he met and married his first wife during this period. He later said he did not deliberately omit his previous stay in B.C.
Although the RCMP did not disclose the force was investigating Mr. Furlong until the story broke, Ms. Robinson said in an interview an investigator contacted her in August. She said the officer got in touch after speaking with an alleged victim she had interviewed.
Mr. Furlong has said he was once told the allegations could go away for a payment, and that he reported the incident to the police. The RCMP has not confirmed this. The Vancouver Police Department would not say whether it received such a complaint, referring comment to the Mounties.
Since the story broke, several people have come forward to share their impressions of Mr. Furlong during his first stay in Canada – some favourable, some not.
Lloyd Abraham, who took physical education with Mr. Furlong in Burns Lake and later at Prince George College, said in an interview on Thursday he “never had any problems with him.”
But Mr. Abraham alleged he saw Mr. Furlong mistreat other students “on a daily basis.”
“I seen him kick people’s asses, grab them by the ears when they didn’t want to do anything, basically shove people around,” he said, adding Mr. Furlong had a quick temper. “But he left me and my [future] brother-in-law alone. We were always active and in good shape.”
Mr. Abraham – who has remained in Burns Lake and worked at the local sawmill until it was hit by a massive explosion in January – said he was surprised Mr. Furlong’s memoir, Patriot Hearts, didn’t mention his time in the northern B.C. community.