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Robinson in March 2015 because he felt vindicated after three complaints of sexual abuse against him were either withdrawn or dismissed in court.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.