John Furlong's family issues statement in his defence

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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

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DavidH

Jan 23, 2013 at 1:29pm

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.

Abby House

Jan 23, 2013 at 2:04pm

Holy smokes - whose damaged goods now!

Robinoxford

Jan 23, 2013 at 2:20pm

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.

lee langlois

Jan 23, 2013 at 2:44pm

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.

Adrian

Jan 23, 2013 at 5:12pm

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.)

DavidH

Jan 23, 2013 at 5:30pm

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?

P Grube

Jan 23, 2013 at 6:44pm

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.

Westcoastskeptic

Jan 23, 2013 at 7:52pm

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.

AntiOlympian?

Jan 24, 2013 at 12:29am

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

Not fooled

Jan 24, 2013 at 3:41pm

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.

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