VANCOUVER – The former head of the Vancouver Olympic Games has formally denied sexual abuse allegations from two former students, even as another former student has filed a lawsuit alleging he, too, was abused by John Furlong.
In a civil lawsuit filed in Vancouver on Monday, a man said he was a nine-year-old student at Immaculata School in Burns Lake, B.C., when Furlong arrived as a volunteer teacher in 1969.
The man said Furlong isolated him in a small room after class, and on two occasions forced him to masturbate him. On a third occasion, the statement of claim said there was forced anal intercourse by Furlong.
“During and after he sexually abused the plaintiff, the defendant John Furlong called the plaintiff a ‘dirty little Indian,'” the document said.
“The defendant John Furlong told the plaintiff that if he ever told anyone about the abuse no one would believe him.”
The man said he has suffered emotionally and psychologically from the abuse, and “was generally disempowered as a result of racism and geographic isolation.”
He said he did not seek legal advice and was unaware that he could bring legal action.
None of the claims from the three lawsuits have been proven in court. Neither Furlong’s lawyer nor a media relations firm that represents him returned a request for a comment on the newest allegations.
No statement of defence has been filed in the third civil lawsuit against Furlong.
In court documents filed Monday in the first two cases, Furlong said he doesn’t recall if he taught Grace West and Beverly Abraham during his time as a volunteer teacher at the Catholic school in northern British Columbia more than four decades ago.
“The defendant denied that he sexually molested or physically abused or engaged in any inappropriate conduct in respect of the plaintiff,” said two identical statements of defence filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
The two women filed civil claims in the summer, after allegations of physical abuse surfaced earlier this year against Furlong in connection to his time teaching physical education to First Nations students at Immaculata School.
The Canadian Press has a policy of not naming the victims of alleged sexual assault, however the lawyer for the two women said they agreed to have their names made public. The plaintiff in the third lawsuit did not.
West, 53, alleges Furlong kicked her in the buttocks almost every day, as well as in the legs and back, always when nobody was around to witness the abuse.
She said he called her names, including “dirty Indian,” and sexually molested her in a change room after gym class approximately once a week.
In her statement of claim, West said she told her father, who confronted Furlong and removed her from the school. West said other parents also went to the diocese with complaints, which failed to act.
Abraham’s statement of claim said she was 11 years old when sexual abuse by Furlong began. Abraham, now 55, said Furlong also asked nuns working at the school to physically punish her by having her kneel on the floor while they struck her open palms repeatedly.
The woman are also seeking compensation in their civil claims for defamation over Furlong’s suggestion at a news conference that unnamed persons had threatened to make accusations in order to extort him.
In the court documents filed Monday, Furlong said it was the plaintiffs themselves who made their identities public.
“The plaintiff self-published the false allegations that she had been sexually or otherwise abused by the defendant,” it said. “If the plaintiff has suffered loss, damage and expense … it was caused by the plaintiff’s self-publication of the false allegations….”
The allegations against Furlong surfaced in an article in the weekly Georgia Straight newspaper last fall, which suggested Furlong lied about his past at the Catholic school and physically and verbally abused First Nations students there.
Furlong did not mention his time as a Catholic school teacher in Burns Lake or Prince George, B.C., in his memoir “Patriot Hearts.”
The man who was the face of the 2010 Olympic Games and is now the executive chairman of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC vehemently denied the allegations, and launched his own defamation lawsuits against the newspaper and journalist Laura Robinson.
Robinson made a new round of allegations in her statement of defence, including accusations that Furlong sexually assaulted a former common-law spouse.