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John Furlong appears at a news conference in Vancouver in September, 2012, where he denied abuse allegations contained in a story in the Georgia Straight newspaper. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
John Furlong appears at a news conference in Vancouver in September, 2012, where he denied abuse allegations contained in a story in the Georgia Straight newspaper. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Family defends VANOC CEO against abuse allegations Add to ...

Two former spouses of former VANOC CEO John Furlong have put their names to a statement that says recent allegations are without merit and “portray a character whom none of us recognizes.”

The statement, issued Wednesday, names five children as well as Mr. Furlong’s first wife Margaret and his former spouse Gail

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A recently-filed court document contained allegations that Mr. Furlong physically and verbally abused Margaret when they were living in Prince George in the early 1970s.

A statement issued by “The Furlong Family” on behalf of Mr. Furlong’s children, their mother and step-mother, and Mr. Furlong’s grandchildren, said recent allegations compelled them to speak.

“Serious, unsubstantiated allegations regarding abuse inside our family have been published,” the statement, issued Wednesday, said. “We are being subjected to shame and embarrassment by misuse of journalist privilege and license. Imagine trying to explain to your nine-year-old child that an adult in a position of power has written that Grandpa is a racist, a wife-beater and a rapist because of what appears to be personal enmity.”

The family statement refers to allegations contained in a recent court filing on behalf of writer Laura Robinson.

Last fall, Mr. Furlong sued Ms. Robinson over a story she wrote for the Georgia Straight that alleged Mr. Furlong had verbally and physically mistreated native students while he was a teacher at a school in Burns Lake in the late 1960s.

Mr. Furlong has denied any wrongdoing. A notice of claim filed on his behalf last November alleges Ms. Robinson “maliciously intended to injure the plaintiff’s reputation and cause the plaintiff harm” with the story.

This week, Ms. Robinson filed a response to the lawsuit that maintained her story was not defamatory and that included the fresh allegations relating to Mr. Furlong.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

On Wednesday, Ms. Robinson issued a statement through her lawyer saying the allegations are not about the Furlong family.

“This is not about the Furlong family and never has been about the Furlong family. Because we do not want them to be in any way the focus of this story that is all we can say,” said the e-mail statement from Bryan Baynham.

The family said it would not be providing another statement and asked for privacy.

The entire statement appears below:

During the Olympic excitement three years ago, when John Furlong was finishing a decade of service to this country, we would never have imagined this day, stepping forward to defend our father. We, Maria, Johnnie, Damien, Emma, Molly, our mother Margaret, our step-mother Gail and our children – 11 of them – feel compelled to make a public statement. Serious, unsubstantiated allegations regarding abuse inside our family have been published. These shocking allegations are without merit and portray a character whom none of us recognizes. We are being subjected to shame and embarrassment by misuse of journalistic privilege and license. Imagine trying to explain to your nine year old child that an adult in a position of power has written that Grandpa is a racist, a wife-beater and a rapist because of what appears to be personal enmity. This is not objective journalism, but self-serving, sensationalistic misuse of the media. Obscene accusations and innuendo have now been printed nation-wide and nothing could possibly undo that. The public should be deeply concerned at the power of a single journalist whose words can smash into a family like a wrecking-ball.

We politely ask that you respect our privacy as this will be our only statement.

The Furlong Family

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