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abuse allegations

John Furlong attends at Major League Soccer game between the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place in May 2012. Since November 2012, Furlong has fought allegations from a Georgia Straight article that he had abused students while teaching in Burns Lake, B.C.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

The publishers of a contentious article about former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong have filed a response to his lawsuit against them, claiming the story printed in the Georgia Straight on Sept. 27, 2012, is not defamatory and that the publication was "diligent" in trying to verify contents before printing it.

Mr. Furlong in November filed a lawsuit over the story, which contained allegations that he had abused students while he was a teacher at a school in Burns Lake, B.C.

The article by writer Laura Robinson constitutes responsible communication on several matters of public interest, including "whether children of First Nations communities who were educated in day schools operated by the Catholic church in British Columbia in the 1960s and 1970s suffered any of the abuses now generally acknowledged to have been suffered by First Nations children who were sent to residential schools in the same period," the response states.

The document was filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Monday by Straight publisher Daniel McLeod, editor Charlie Straight and the Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp., which publishes the weekly newspaper.

Ms. Robinson is expected to file her response to the lawsuit within the next few days.

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