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Furlong files documents denying allegations he abused students

John Furlong makes his way into a news conference in Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong has filed court documents in which he denies sexually abusing two students when he was a physical education teacher.

Mr. Furlong, the public face of Vancouver's 2010 Games, was sued in late July by two women who said they were abused as students more than 40 years ago. The allegations have not been proven.

In his response, filed Monday, Mr. Furlong denied molesting the women or engaging in any inappropriate conduct.

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He also said he could not recall teaching either Beverly Mary Abraham or Grace Jessie West during his time at Immaculata School in Burns Lake, B.C.

Allegations that Mr. Furlong physically abused several Aboriginal students first surfaced last 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 said she attended the school in 1969 and 1971. She said she was molested approximately 12 times when she was about 11 years old.

Ms. West, in her notice of civil claim, said she was molested about once a week. She said she told her father, who confronted Mr. Furlong and the principal or a senior administrator. Ms. West said her father then 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. Mr. Furlong, in his response, denied that abuse occurred.

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."

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The organization that operated the school and another area diocese were also named as defendants in the lawsuits filed by the women. But in responses submitted to the court earlier this month they denied Mr. Furlong carried out the alleged assaults.

The groups said even if Mr. Furlong had committed the alleged assaults – "which is not admitted" – the school and the diocese wouldn't be responsible because they didn't provide him with an opportunity to carry out the offences.

Mr. Furlong, in his lawsuit against the Georgia Straight, earlier filed documents calling the alleged physical abuse 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.

Mr. Furlong first denied allegations of wrongdoing at a press conference shortly after the Georgia Straight story was published. In his response to the lawsuits he said his statements at that news conference were true.

Ms. Abraham and Ms. West have said the comments Mr. Furlong made at that news conference were defamatory.

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