VANCOUVER - Family members of former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong — including his ex-wife — are speaking out against allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

John's three children, his wife, ex-wife and 11 grandchildren have issued a statement condemning the latest allegations made by reporter Laura Robinson, who is being sued by Furlong for earlier accusations about his time as a teacher at a First Nations school in northern B.C.

A statement of defence filed by Robinson this week includes new claims alleging Furlong physically abused a former spouse and sexually assaulted another.

Furlong's family says these allegations — which have not been proven in court — are an unfounded abuse of journalistic privilege.

The family says the "obscene" innuendo has smashed the family like a wrecking ball.

Robinson wrote a story for the weekly Georgia Straight newspaper last fall that alleged Furlong lied about his past as a volunteer teacher at a Catholic school in Burns Lake, B.C., four decades ago, where some students claim he was physically and verbally abusive.

Full statement from the Furlong family:

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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