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  • Furlong on the Offensive


    (ATR) Embattled ex-VANOC chief John Furlong tries to set the record straight after enduring a “humiliating and demeaning” week.
    John Furlong during Vancouver 2010. (ATR)

    Furlong said late Tuesday he’s seeking a retraction, full apologies and “substantial” monetary damages from a newspaper and its reporter Laura Robinson, who published allegations he abused students at a rural aboriginal school 40 years ago.

    “The past five days have been humiliating and demeaning beyond anything my family and I have ever experienced,” Furlong wrote on his personal website in what he claimed would be his “final” statement.

    “My loved ones in Canada and Ireland have been subjected to scrutiny, sarcasm, disrespect and outrageous invasions of privacy. The story is a disgrace beyond words.”

    Under the title “Setting the Record Straight on my Life and Family,” Furlong said he “treated everyone in a fair, appropriate manner and at no time unlawfully or harmfully” during his time in Burns Lake, British Columbia.

    As reported Sept. 27 in Vancouver urban weekly Georgia Straight, unproven allegations of abuse are contained in affidavits by eight people who claim to be Furlong’s ex-students from 1969 and 1970. A complaint of sexual assault from the same era was also filed before mid-July of this year with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP is investigating.

    Meanwhile, Furlong is sidelined from his new role as the executive chair of Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps.

    "For now we want to support John. It's business as usual," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "He's taking time to digest what's going on and hasn't been at the office. For us, we're allowing him to have his space and I'm sure at the appropriate time there will be a re-connection. For the time being we just carry on as-is."

    In his Tuesday statement, Furlong also stands by the story in his 2011 memoir Patriot Hearts about his father Jack identifying Siobhan Roice in the Dublin morgue in May 1974, claiming the truth was withheld from Johanna Roice, the victim’s distraught mother, and his aunt for her protection.

    “The story I’ve shared countless times is the true account of a tragedy that shaped my life forever,” Furlong wrote. “We came to Canada as landed immigrants grateful for a fresh start and a new beginning. A customs officer’s simple welcome to the country has inspired me for a lifetime.”

    Furlong said Robinson had “open contempt for the Olympic Games and male authority figures in sport.”

    “At VANOC we accepted her scrutiny – biased as it consistently was – as part of the job. We thought our interaction with her ended with the Games.”

    Robinson announced Saturday she would countersue Furlong for defamation.

    Reported in Vancouver by Bob Mackin

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