Skip to main content
new

John Furlong, the man who organized the Vancouver Olympics, poses in Toronto on Oct. 29, 2013. Court documents related to a lawsuit against former Olympic CEO John Furlong suggest one of the plaintiffs attended a school in a different community at the time of alleged sexual abuse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteThe Canadian Press

A judge has dismissed a sexual-assault lawsuit against former Vancouver Olympics chief executive John Furlong, ruling the woman who brought the case did not attend the school where Mr. Furlong was a physical-education instructor more than four decades ago.

Another suit against him was dropped in December, and Mr. Furlong's legal team says he'll push to have a third and final sex-assault suit thrown out of court.

The case dismissed Tuesday was brought by Grace Jessie West. In her notice of civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court in July, 2013, Ms. West alleged Mr. Furlong physically and sexually abused her when she attended Immaculata Roman Catholic Elementary School in Burns Lake, B.C., in 1969-70.

But, in dismissing the case, Justice J. Miriam Gropper said the evidence before her – Ms. West's testimony in discovery, and school records – supported the conclusion Ms. West did not attend the school.

"On the basis of that evidence and there being no evidence to the contrary, I must find that Ms. West did not attend Immaculata in 1969-1970. Her claim against Mr. Furlong, alleging that she was abused while a student at Immaculata in that school year is not sustainable," the judge wrote. "In all the circumstances, I must dismiss Ms. West's action."

Mr. Furlong's lawyers applied for the dismissal late last month. They said they had not been able to reach Ms. West since August. Her lawyer had also withdrawn from the case.

In her decision, Justice Gropper noted a court clerk was unable to contact Ms. West during the last hearing despite calling her several times. The judge said Mr. Furlong is entitled to costs.

Mr. Furlong's lawyers released a statement on his behalf that said he was pleased with the dismissal and always maintained the alleged abuse did not occur. The statement said the allegations against Mr. Furlong have caused him and his family "great pain" over the last few years and have rendered "almost incalculable" damage to his reputation.

The statement went on to confirm Mr. Furlong's lawyers will seek to have the final sex-assault case dismissed.

Tuesday's decision was the latest in a rapid series of developments in the lawsuits against Mr. Furlong.

In December, Beverly Abraham, the first person to file a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse, announced she was dropping her case. Ms. Abraham said her brother and nephew had recently died and her elderly mother was ill, leaving her too emotionally spent to continue with the suit.

Jason Gratl, the lawyer who represented Ms. Abraham, Ms. West and one other accuser, announced at the same December hearing that he was withdrawing from all of the files. He did not explain why.

Ms. West was the second person to file a lawsuit. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The case involving the third person, a man who has asked not to be identified, is scheduled to go to trial next month. However, the man does not appear to have a lawyer, and Mr. Furlong's legal team has filed documents that suggest the man was in a different community at the time in question.

The documents said the man told an Indian residential schools dispute resolution process he was in Fraser Lake, about 70 kilometres west of Burns Lake. The man said he was abused there, and later in Prince George, and received a payment of $129,000.

Allegations about Mr. Furlong's time at Immaculata surfaced in September, 2012, in the Georgia Straight newspaper. The story said eight former students alleged Mr. Furlong physically abused them. The piece did not mention sexual abuse.

Mr. Furlong has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He sued the Georgia Straight and the freelance author of the piece, Laura Robinson. He later dropped the suit against the paper, and a trial date has not been set for his case against Ms. Robinson.

Ms. Robinson's lawsuit against Mr. Furlong, in which she claims his response to the story defamed her, is scheduled to go to trial in June.

Justice Gropper, in her decision, said Ms. West was asked about her school history during discovery proceedings in April, 2014. The judge said Ms. West, at one point, listed several schools she had attended, but Immaculata was not among those she mentioned.

The judge said Ms. West also gave inconsistent timelines. She said Ms. West at one point said she had been at Immaculata from 1964 to 1977. At other times, the judge said, Ms. West indicated she had only attended Immaculata for one year, in kindergarten.

Enrolment records submitted to the court by a church official said a Jessie West was at a school in Smithers, 140 kilometres northwest of Burns Lake, in 1969-70. That student's father had the same first name as Ms. West's.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct