VANCOUVER – Former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong says the RCMP have closed an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against him by a former student and found no evidence to support criminal charges, prompting him to declare he’s been “fully cleared” in one of a series of allegations and lawsuits facing him.
The allegations stem from Furlong’s time teaching in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which first surfaced in a newspaper article last year. The article quoted several people who said they were former students and claimed to have been verbally and physically abused by Fulong. It’s now the subject of a libel lawsuit by Furlong targeting the author.
Three people, including Beverly Abraham, have filed lawsuits against Furlong alleging sexual abuse, and the RCMP launched its own investigation into Abraham’s claims.
Furlong publicly released a letter Thursday written by an RCMP investigator in Prince George, under the heading: “John Furlong — allegation of sexual assault.”
“Based on the facts uncovered, the allegations made by Beverly Abraham are not supported,” wrote Cpl. Quinton Mackie in a letter sent to Furlong’s lawyer, dated Dec. 5.
“Reasonable and probable grounds do not exist on which to recommend charges against John Furlong to Crown counsel. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are no longer investigating John Furlong with respect to this allegation.”
Two months ago, during a media blitz that saw Furlong defend his reputation and lash out at the reporter behind the original article, the former Olympic official released an earlier letter from the RCMP he received in April.
That letter also said the RCMP “found nothing to substantiate the complaint,” but it also suggested investigators “continue to speak to people” whose names had surfaced in court documents, according to a copy of the letter published by Global News. At the time, the RCMP publicly insisted the investigation remained open.
Neither a spokesman for the RCMP nor Mackie could be immediately reached Thursday to comment on the force’s latest letter to Furlong.
Furlong issued a written statement in which he said the RCMP’s letter to him “fully exonerates” him with respect to Abraham’s allegations. He said his lawyers would be requesting a trial date to deal with her lawsuit.
“I am grateful that the record has now been fully cleared in this matter, and Beverly Abraham’s allegations have been proven to be incorrect,” the statement said.
Some of Abraham’s claims — though not her allegations of sexual abuse — were first published in a September 2012 article written by freelance writer Laura Robinson for the Georgia Straight newspaper. Furlong used his written statement to repeat his attacks on Robinson’s character, describing her as reckless.
Furlong’s written statement does not mention the other two lawsuits he is also facing.
Grace West and another plaintiff, a man who has asked that his name not be published, have filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse — all of which Furlong has denied.
The Roman Catholic diocese that ran Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake has filed statements of defence that say it could find no records indicating West or the other plaintiff attended the school in the years they claimed to have been victims of abuse.
The Abraham case is the only one that has been confirmed to have been the subject of a formal police investigation.
All three clients are represented by the same lawyer, Jason Gratl, who said the RCMP’s latest letter to Furlong does not change his intention to pursue the lawsuits. He welcomed Furlong’s intention to set a trial date in Abraham’s case.
“Good,” he said, when told of Furlong’s intention to bring the case to trial.
“We’d like a joint trial with all of the plaintiffs.”
Gratl predicted the case likely wouldn’t see the inside of a courtroom for two or three years.
None of the allegations against Furlong or Robinson have been tested in court.