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Ex VANOC head John Furlong denies abuse allegations 0

JIM MORRIS, 24 HOURS
Former VANOC chief John Furlong seen here with lawyer Marvin Starrow at a news conference in Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2012. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Former VANOC chief John Furlong seen here with lawyer Marvin Starrow at a news conference in Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2012. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

The man who headed the Organizing Committee for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games is denying allegations he physically abused aboriginal children while teaching in northern B.C.

John Furlong also said Thursday he plans legal action against the reporter who wrote the story for Vancouver's Georgia Straight newspaper.

"I want you to know I categorically deny absolutely any wrongdoing and I believe that the RCMP in looking into this matter will discredit the complaint entirely because it just did not happen," Furlong said, reading a statement.

"As a result of inaccurate reporting I feel that my character has been recklessly challenged and I have no choice now but to proceed with legal action."

The RCMP confirmed Thursday they were investigating the allegations.

The story, by Laura Robinson, alleges Furlong came to Canada in 1969 as an Oblate Frontier Apostle missionary and worked at Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake, as a physical education teacher.

In his book Patriot Hearts, Furlong says he arrived in Canada in 1974.

The story quotes several former pupils who say Furlong physically and verbally abused children from the Babine Lake First Nation, calling them "good for nothin' Indians."

Hereditary chief Ronnie Alec is one of several people who filed an affidavit for the story which described the abuse.

"When you're not doing too good in basketball, all of a sudden you get kicked in the butt or slapped on the head," Alec wrote.

". With his big eyes, I can picture him and next thing: Boom, a hard slap to the head."

Furlong, now Whitecaps executive chairman, told reporters his time in Burns Lake "was fairly brief and fairly uneventful."

"I went back to Ireland and came to Canada years later as a landed immigrant."

A tired-looking Furlong, joined by his lawyer Marvin Storrow, didn't answer reporters' questions.

Robinson's CV says she is a freelance journalist and the author of five books on issues in sport.

Furlong said the story felt like a personal vendetta by Robinson.


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