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The Globe and Mail

Affidavit claims journalist executed ‘orchestrated campaign’ to ruin John Furlong

John Furlong is defending himself against allegations in a freelance journalist’s 2012 article that claims he abused former students in B.C.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong has filed an affidavit in his lawsuit against a freelance journalist who wrote a story alleging he physically abused several students when he was a gym teacher more than four decades ago.

Laura Robinson's story was published in the alternative weekly newspaper the Georgia Straight in September 2012. Neither the allegations in her story, nor Mr. Furlong's subsequent allegations about Ms. Robinson, have been proven in court.

Mr. Furlong's eight-page affidavit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday. The document largely repeats claims he made during an October media blitz.

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The affidavit notes Mr. Furlong's time as CEO of the 2010 Games, and some of the accolades he received, including six honorary doctorate degrees.

The document says his life was "fulfilling and wonderful" before Ms. Robinson's story was published. He accuses her of carrying out an "orchestrated campaign" to ruin his reputation and economic livelihood and, once again, calls her story reckless.

He says the story has had negative effects on him financially, as his once-prosperous speaking career "is now virtually shut down."

A hearing in the case is scheduled for B.C. Supreme Court for Monday, though Mr. Furlong is not required to attend.

Mr. Furlong earlier said he would also sue the Georgia Straight, though he later changed his mind and said he would only pursue Ms. Robinson.

Ms. Robinson, earlier this week, said she would seek a $100,000 security bond from Mr. Furlong to cover any potential awarding of costs. Mr. Furlong, in the affidavit, opposes that request.

Ms. Robinson has also asked for the public's help in covering her legal costs. She has said freelance journalists are seldom covered by a newspaper's insurance and said "the cost of defending freedom of expression is huge."

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Although Ms. Robinson's original story did not mention sexual abuse, three people who allege they were sexually abused by Mr. Furlong when they were students have filed lawsuits against him. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Furlong has said he has been told an RCMP investigation into one formal complaint has concluded and proven his innocence. However, the RCMP has said its investigation into Mr. Furlong remains open. The force has refused to provide further information.

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