The chief of the B.C. First Nations community at the centre of alleged abuse by the former head of the Vancouver Olympics says he’s looking forward to a thorough RCMP investigation.
Chief Wilf Adam of the Lake Babine Nation said the community appreciates John Furlong’s achievements as CEO of the 2010 Olympics but believes there are “serious longstanding issues from the past that must be addressed.”
"An RCMP investigation must bring the truth of what happened in the past to the full light of day for all to see," said Adam in a statement Friday. "The necessary steps must be taken, so we can put this issue to rest."
Furlong is accused of physically and verbally abusing students at a Catholic school in Burns Lake, B.C. in the late ’60s and early ‘70s. The claims were publicized Thursday in a feature article in the Georgia Straight.
Furlong vehemently denied the accusations and said he plans to sue the reporter and newspaper. He also welcomed an RCMP investigation to clear his name.
The RCMP issued a statement saying they were aware of the allegations and were investigating, but could not provide any more details.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the allegations serious, according to CBC News.
"I have worked with John and gotten to know him over the last many years as many of you have, and I have never found him to be anything but a man of absolutely the highest integrity and ethics," said Clark on Friday.
Furlong said on Thursday that someone approached him before the 2010 Games and said “for a payment, it could be made to go away.” He said he reported that to police at the time.
Freelance reporter, Laura Robinson, who wrote the Georgia Straight article alleging the abuse, told Global News that she understood that a former student contacted Furlong but she did not include it in her story.
"That story is not our story, and it appeared from his statement that somehow we said that to him. That's completely incorrect," she said. "That was a former student, and I don't even know if that's true."
"As soon as I thought there might have been a possibility, we didn't investigate that one anymore," she says, "And the reason, the other reason we didn't have to investigate it is there were, there were 35 students, there were 35 people waiting for me in Burns Lake when I sent out the little notice to their newsletter... saying I was interested in talking to people who went to Immaculata Elementary School."
Robinson, who lives in Ontario, also disputed Furlong’s assertion that he had “experienced this reporter” on many occasions and that her story was a “personal vendetta” against him.
She says that she’s only been in the same room twice as Furlong. Robinson also states she tried through “lots of communication” with Furlong and his lawyer to get him to respond to her questions about his time in Burns Lake.