Lawyer accuses John Furlong of dropping defamation suit against Laura Robinson to avoid witnesses
Former Vanoc chief cross-examined in trial of counter-suit brought by journalist
A lawyer has accused John Furlong of not wanting to see his defamation suit against a journalist tried in court because he was afraid more people would come forward and testify that he allegedly abused them.
Bryan Baynham—counsel for Laura Robinson, author of an in-depth article published by the Georgia Straight about Furlong’s previously undisclosed early years in Canada and the abuses he allegedly committed at that time against First Nations students—said today (June 22) in B.C. Supreme Court that the former Vancouver Olympics CEO was interested only in litigating the matter in the court of public opinion.
Baynham offered a possible reason why: “Mr. Furlong, you never wanted to appear the 30 individuals that have been named in the response to evidence in court, isn’t that right?”
Furlong, who was alleged to have racially taunted and physically abused students in eight sworn statements gathered by Robinson for the Straight story, denied this was the case.
“It’s not right. I just gave you the reason we did it,” Furlong responded.
Earlier, Furlong maintained that he dropped his suit against Robinson in March 2015 because he felt vindicated after three complaints of sexual abuse against him were either withdrawn or dismissed in court.
Baynham didn’t sound persuaded.
“You read the response,” Baynham said, referring to the response filed by Robinson to Furlong’s defamation suit. “There were 30 people in the response who made allegations of physical, emotional, and in a few cases, sexual abuse.”
Baynham continued: “You didn’t want to have those, those witnesses give evidence in court. That’s why you dropped the case.”
Furlong responded: “Sorry, but at the end of those three cases, it was pretty clear to me that the entire thing was a debacle, and I decided it was time to move on.”
The Straight article didn’t contain any allegations of sexual abuse against Furlong.
The same day the story came out, on September 27, 2012, Furlong read a statement at a tightly-packed press conference, saying that he had become aware of having been accused of sexual abuse.
Later in the day, CBC ran its own story containing an interview with a woman who claimed that she was sexually abused by Furlong.
In his cross-examination of Furlong, Baynham noted that Furlong didn’t sue Robinson specifically about the matter of sexual abuse.
Baynham also pointed out that Furlong neither set a trial date nor initiated an examination for discovery of evidence in his suit against Robinson, which was based on the story that was published in the Straight.
According to the lawyer, Furlong only wanted to get favourable public opinion in the aftermath of the Straight’s story.
“It’s absolutely not true,” Furlong responded.
Furlong also sued the Straight but he eventually discontinued his claim.
Robinson counter-sued Furlong for various public statements he had made questioning her competence and honesty as a journalist.
The trial of Robinson’s defamation suit started on June 15.
Jun 22, 2015 at 9:31pm
Just came here to say he kind of looks like Creed from "The Office" in that photo. In my opinion.
Jun 23, 2015 at 12:44pm
This whole case smells like crazy!
Jun 23, 2015 at 9:54pm
I think Furlong orchestrated a very clever public relations campaign to minimize the damage caused by Robinson's story. He had no intention of ever going through with a defamation case against either the straight or Robinson, that would be extremely counterproductive and cost him money. He is blind to the damage his words and actions did to his former students, that is evidenced by his statement that it was a special time for him. So special it didn't make it into his error laden auto-biography.
Jun 24, 2015 at 5:58am
I look forward to John facing the accusers Laura brought forward from the school in a court of law. Oh, wait a minute? That doesn't matter anymore. Now he's just a bad man who said mean things about Laura.
Jun 24, 2015 at 9:06am
Furlong won't answer anything - denial, denial BUT some of it nonsensical - if he had a case why didn't he pursue it. He knows he did not have a case and saying that the sexual assault suits were dropped against him is irrelevant. He knows full well her article did not mention sexual assault. He simply avoids that except with blanket denials. He is totally about PR. He has never addressed the gaps in his biography - if he loved Burns Lake so much why did he not mention it in his biography etc etc etc This guy understands PR and he uses it to the hilt.
Jun 24, 2015 at 9:06am
You don't need to carry on with a defamation suit after you've restored your reputation. Furlong is to be praised for discontinuing his lawsuit against her. There was no need to burden the system with it. Too bad she did not have the sense to do likewise.
Jun 24, 2015 at 2:56pm
Response to Legal Observer:
If Furlong did not want to burden the legal system he wouldn't have brought a suit he could not win i the first place. There is absolutely no proof whatsoever that unburdening the legal system was ever in his thoughts.
Jun 30, 2015 at 7:32pm
A lot of gobbledygook- gook on both sides. However, i am wondering why, after the fupirst article, she took to emailing and then presenting a pair in Denmark that led to more accusations ?