|Former Vancouver International Olympic Committee CEO John Furlong makes his way to a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday September 27, 2012. (Carmine Marinelli/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - The former head of the Vancouver International Olympic Committee is filing a lawsuit against the Georgia Straight and one of its reporters after a story was written that contained allegations of abuse of First Nations students in northern B.C.
John Furlong, now the Vancouver Whitecaps’ executive chairman, has publicly dismissed all of the claims.
Journalist Laura Robinson’s story published on Sept. 27 reported he was in Burns Lake, B.C., during the late 1960s as a teacher — something she said was left out of his biography — in a school where First Nations children claimed they were physically and verbally abused.
Her story includes information from affidavits filed by people such as hereditary chief Ronnie Alec, who described how when he was under-performing in basketball, “all of a sudden you get kicked in the butt or slapped on the head.”
Furlong told reporters the same day the story was published that his character has been “recklessly challenged” because the reporting was inaccurate.
His spokeswoman, Catherine Locke, said he was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
“Now that this matter is before the courts, Mr. Furlong and his counsel will not be available for public comment,” she wrote in a statement.
The statement names Robinson, Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, publisher Daniel McLeod and publishing firm Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp. as part of the lawsuit.
Mounties confirmed to media in late September that they were investigating the allegations.
Robinson could not be reached for comment by press time, but has said in the past she would counter-sue.