John Furlong, the former Vancouver Olympics CEO accused of physically and sexually abusing students when he was a physical education teacher decades ago, says the allegations are untrue and he never engaged in any "inappropriate contact."
Mr. Furlong, the public face of Vancouver's 2010 Games whose motivational style made him a star on the speaking circuit, issued the denial in a document filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday. Earlier this week, Beverly Mary Abraham and Grace Jessie West filed lawsuits alleging Mr. Furlong molested them when they were students at Immaculata Roman Catholic Elementary School in Burns Lake, B.C., more than 40 years ago. The allegations have not been proven.
The allegations that Mr. Furlong physically abused several aboriginal students first surfaced in September in the alternative weekly newspaper, Georgia Straight. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper and the article's author in November. The document filed Friday pertains to Mr. Furlong's lawsuit against the newspaper. He has not yet filed a response to the lawsuits from Ms. Abraham and Ms. West. The document says Mr. Furlong was well-liked by students when he was at Immaculata and no reports of abuse, physical or verbal, were ever filed. "This is because no such abuse, physical or verbal, ever happened," the document said.
Ms. Abraham, 55, said she attended Immaculata in 1969 and 1971. Her 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 gym, typically after class. She said Mr. Furlong would order her to stay behind and then close the gym door. Ms. West, 53, said she was molested about 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."
In the document filed Friday, Mr. Furlong said the RCMP found Ms. Abraham's allegation false. An RCMP spokesman, however, said the force is not in a position to comment about the allegations against Mr. Furlong because "our file has not been fully concluded."
Mr. Furlong also said the allegation he abused students during class was a distortion. He said a physical education teacher had to make students do push-ups or run laps, and criticize or reprimand them if they performed the activities improperly. He said he would also have to bring students to other authority figures at the school to be disciplined. Mr. Furlong said having students practise their footwork by throwing a basketball at them and requiring them to dodge was an often-used drill.
Much of the 12-page document filed Friday focuses on the article's author, Laura Robinson. It calls her journalistic techniques "highly unorthodox, prejudicial and skewed to creating innuendo."
Ms. Robinson has said she showed due diligence with the piece. Roger McConchie, lawyer for the paper, said in an e-mail he will show at trial that the Georgia Straight was diligent in verifying the contents of the article before publication.