John Furlong's family issues statement in his defence

Editor's note: John Furlong's family issued today (January 23) a statement in response to allegations contained in a statement of defence filed in court by journalist Laura Robinson. Robinson is one of the parties being sued by Furlong over an article published by the Georgia Straight in September 2012. There's a separate claim of defamation against her in connection with an email sent to Own the Podium in November. What follows is the Furlong family's statement.

During the Olympic excitement three years ago, when John Furlong was finishing a decade of service to this country, we would never have imagined this day, stepping forward to defend our father. We, Maria, Johnnie, Damien, Emma, Molly, our mother Margaret, our step-mother Gail and our children -- 11 of them -- feel compelled to make a public statement. Serious, unsubstantiated allegations regarding abuse inside our family have been published. These shocking allegations are without merit and portray a character whom none of us recognizes. We are being subjected to shame and embarrassment by misuse of journalistic privilege and license. Imagine trying to explain to your nine year old child that an adult in a position of power has written that Grandpa is a racist, a wife-beater and a rapist because of what appears to be personal enmity. This is not objective journalism, but self-serving, sensationalistic misuse of the media. Obscene accusations and innuendo have now been printed nation-wide and nothing could possibly undo that. The public should be deeply concerned at the power of a single journalist whose words can smash into a family like a wrecking-ball.

We politely ask that you respect our privacy as this will be our only statement.

The Furlong Family

Comments (20) Add New Comment
Although I understand the emotions behind this statement, the family misses the obvious.

They claim that the allegations are "without merit". They allege "misuse of journalistic privilege" and "personal enmity" They accuse the original author of "self-serving, sensationlistic misuse of the media" and of "obscene accusations and innuendo".

Unfortunately, until this matter has gone to court - and until the police investigation is finished - the family's "rant" has no value. In fact, it may well come back to haunt them if John Furlong's lawsuit is unsuccessful.

You can't beat name-calling with retaliatory name-calling, folks ... and you certainly can't demand privacy when you make a very public statement.

My advice is that you keep quiet and let the legal system run its course.
Rating: +37
Abby House
Holy smokes - whose damaged goods now!
Rating: -9
This journalist has made herself judge and jury. If these statements are not proven true then I would like to see this journalist jailed for over two years and the media who run the story all be responsible to pay for the considerable damage done.
Rating: -11
lee langlois
Very satisfied to see the public statement from the family.Scurrilous statments issued from the mouths of unprincipled reporters (or media in general)appear to becoming the norm.
Witch hunts (see the Star and its single-minded ongoing vendetta against Mayor Rob Ford), incitement (see CBC fan the flames of INM), slander bordering on libellous, outing, public castigation, unfortunately have become acceptable, and these attention, ratings seeking chuckleheads are not being held accountable.
PS: I live out west and I am not a Rob Ford fan.
Rating: -18
It is natural for immediate family to circle the wagons. Wrapping themselves in the flag to start - well, whoever penned that release is responsible for that bit of emotional gamesmanship. Still, John Furlong is deflecting attention from the central issues - the reports of abuse told by 25 people, or more, in northern BC, and the reports of abuse by a former spouse in Nanaimo. These are very serious matters - and no attempt to personalize the issues, or to discredit Laura Robinson, a very fine and reputable journalist, will answer those concerns. That Furlong has played fast and loose with the facts since the disclosures first became public doesn't lend him any credibility. (On top of his original ommision of this part of his life in his bio and public story.)
Rating: +29
Lee Langlois wrote:

"Scurrilous atatments", "unprincipled reporters", "witch hunts", "vendetta", "incitement", "slander bordering on libellous", "outing", "public castigation"

One can only wonder why an internet hero like you shouldn't be sued. Got some liability insurance, hero?
Rating: +28
P Grube
Something is wrong with this whole issue. The fact that it happened thirty years ago -- without a peep from anyone -- should have given pause. What caused the reporter to investigate in the first place and why then (sometime last year?). It would have been useful if someone had said something prior to Furlong taking over the reins of what turned out to be (against how many folks' predictions, including the media?) a very successful set of Games. More shit-disturbing by the media -- some of which, sometimes, is useful -- but much of which is simply cruel and unnecessary.
Rating: -27
There is irony in asking for privacy through a public statement released through a public relations firm.

I do not know what the truth is in this case. Allegations were made in the original news reports. Further allegations are made in court documents. Denials have been made in public and in court documents. None of it has been tested in court, through examination and cross-examination. The family members purportedly making this statement today are not part of that proceeding.

I wonder why Mr. Furlong is fighting this out in public beforehand. The downside is that it allows the purportedly defamatory accusations to be rebroadcast over and over again in the form of legal reporting.

Is he hoping the defendants (particularly Ms. Robinson) will make further public statements that are defamatory, to strengthen his case in court? On the other hand, the back accusations against Ms. Robinson may strengthen her counterclaim. It is clever that it is done through non-parties to the court proceeding. The end result depends what is proven in court.

Defamation in Canada now includes a defence of responsible communication, which protects against false statements as long as the writer was diligent, in all the circumstances, in verifying the allegedly defamatory comments.

Winning public sympathy won't win the court case. At present, I would not be surprised if this case turned out like the Dering v. Uris defamation suit, which Leon Uris turned into fiction in his novel QB VII. Dr. Deering proved defamation, yet won only damages of a half penny. He hadn't performed 17,000 surgeries without anesthetic at Auschwitz that he was accused of, but had participated in unnecessary sterilizations and other operations.

It remains to be seen what will happen in this case.
Rating: +23
Was the Olymics such a success? Take $1B dollars of taxpayer money, and throw a party, how hard is that?

Furlong had a great gravy train job, this is just payback entertainment for the taxpayers.

Here's to you Miss Robinson
Rating: +32
Not fooled
The statement mentions Furlong and his decade of service to this country, too bad there's no mention of the PRIOR service he provided to this country which was also ommitted in his biography. I suspect this statement was concocted by a PR company as I doubt it would have been worded in such a fashion had it really been written by an actual family member. The statment also states "Imagine trying to explain to your nine year old child that an adult in a position of power has written that Grandpa is a racist, a wife-beater and a rapist because of what appears to be personal enmity" My response to this is: Imagine how the people who are alleged victims of their Grandpa's actions feel. I have heard Furlong on several occassions say "As this matter is now before the courts, I will not make any further comments on this" and yet he continues to do so. This latest publicity attempt from his family to garner sympathy for Furlong, may just end up back firing on them big time. Furlong thinks he can talk the hind legs off a donkey, but there are many people not fooled by the load of blarney he spews.
Rating: +43
John is worried about his golden image.This hurt him very much but what about the hurt all of those young students from Burns Lake received according to their accounts.I guess it hurts more when your a polished hero like John. The truth will come out.
Rating: +25
If telling a kid in PE that they are lazy and to get the lead out is abuse then half the kids that went to school in the fifties and sixties were "abused". It was a different time, teachers routinely gave kids hell for all kinds of things that wouldn't get mentioned in today's politically correct climate. A student getting the strap for some relatively minor infraction was a regular occurence. The culture of victimization lives on, Laura Robinson's article reeks of it.
Rating: -29
John cries how vulnerable "folks like him" are to attacks in the media - how vulnerable were the kids that put their faith in those that were put in charge of looking out for them?
Rating: +36
How many wives has he had, they seem to keep coming out of the woodwork.
Rating: +38
J Sandusky claimed he never touched a single soul but when there are so many voices the truth will always come out.
Rating: +27
I don't see much point in either cheering or jeering this statement. The family is telling us publically that they are in pain and that they support their family member. Maybe that's legally smart and maybe it isn't, but it is something that they are doing for their family member, who as far as I know has not been found by a court of law to be guilty of anything.
Rating: -5
Imagine having to explain to your nine year old son that an adult in a position of power did these horrible things to you when you were his age and had no way to defend yourself or anyone to cry out to!
Rating: +19
out at night
When a certain number of people step forward and say some damning things about someone it is news. It's always going to be heartbreaking and devastating to some of the people involved, no matter what. Yes, John Furlong is being raked over the coals. But keep in mind, that in his blanket denial he has effectively called every single one of his accusers a liar.

Just as there are those who will automatically assume the highly placed white guy is guilty of abusing his power, there are also those who will automatically assume that the Aboriginal people who cry foul are guilty of exploiting the system. Anyone who thinks that Furlong's is the only reputation on the line likely hasn't ever had the experience of speaking up and getting involved in a public dispute.

I've had that experience, and it was because I thought I needed to do the right thing. There was nothing in it for me except the feeling that I'd followed my conscience. I was exposed to ridicule, frozen out at my workplace, denounced by former friends and suffered losses to my professional status and opportunities. All because I had the nerve to speak my truth.
Rating: +29
Mr. Bids
I am confused about which ex wife claims she was never abused. Was she one of the wives named in the original statement or is she a new one besides the live in girlfriend? Can someone help me with this.
Rating: +14
Boo Hoo
Why should the Emperor with no clothes put the squeeze on little people who ain’t got nothing to squeal about? Why succumb to paranoia when one can be so easily amused?

Thank you, 2010 Olympics and your affiliated corporate bodies for the following:

Thank you for blaring those nuclear-strength lasers into the sky, without any warning, on one of those rare clear nights when even I was able to locate the Pleiades with my naked eyes whilst standing right at the edge of the sea. Thank you for drowning out the stars and ruining a minor epiphany, something which the Caligulas and Neros of old were incapable of doing. In the near future, oligarchs will beam high-powered slogans into the night sky on a regular basis, a horror Orwell never imagined.

Thank you for installing all of those surveillance cameras throughout the city and leaving them here. Never again can one just simply loiter under an awning for more than 2 minutes during a heavy rainfall humming a little ditty to oneself without being hassled by an embittered security guard. Suspicious behaviour. Mon Dieu!

Thank you for the security blockades which were set up everywhere, especially near the public library. Thank you to the mob which collectively tittered and hissed as you saw me approaching while I was carrying a stack of overdue library books. Books! Thanks for moving in upon me and thank you to the cop for escorting me through until I found the courage to clear my own path through that gauntlet of morons.

Such things can break one’s precious little heart and even worse, divert one’s mind to thoughts awfully grave. Why go to that dark place? The most practical solution, I’d say, is to defiantly cultivate a sense of humour about the absurdities inherent in fascism. Like that merry prankster who had the Promethean audacity to “steal” some light from the Olympian flame in Gastown. His time here was so fleeting but it was a life well lived, wasn’t it?

Rating: +2
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