Diocese denies abuse lawsuit against Furlong; suggests student didn't attend

VANCOUVER – The Roman Catholic diocese that ran a school where former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong once taught is denying allegations of abuse in a lawsuit filed by two women, questioning in a statement of defence whether one of the students even attended the school.

A cloud has hung over Furlong since last fall, when the Georgia Straight weekly newspaper published a story alleging Furlong physically and verbally abused students while teaching in Burns Lake, B.C., and Prince George, B.C.

Those allegations were amplified this past July, when two women identifying themselves as former students filed a civil lawsuit against Furlong alleging physical and sexual abuse while at Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake.

Furlong has yet to file a statement of defence in that case, but in a separate libel lawsuit against the Georgia Straight and one of its writers, Furlong has said none of the allegations are true.

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Prince Rupert and the Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George have filed a statement of defence, denying all of the allegations levelled by Grace West and Beverly Abraham.

The statement of defence also says it could find no records of anyone named Grace West, or anyone else with her birthday, who attended the school in 1969 or 1970, when she claims to have been a student there.