TORONTO - The man who organized the Vancouver Olympics is seizing a "pivotal moment" in a sexual abuse allegation scandal and holding it out for all Canadians to see in a bid to clear his name.
But, not content with leaving the "pain and suffering" over allegations that he vehemently denies behind him, John Furlong is firing back with an offensive of his own against what he says is one reporter's hateful "campaign."
The sex abuse allegations surfaced following a newspaper article by freelance journalist Laura Robinson. It suggested Furlong physically and verbally abused First Nations students at Burns Lake, B.C., while teaching at a Catholic school there in the late 1960s.
Three people, two women and one man, have filed lawsuits against Furlong alleging sexual abuse. The RCMP investigated a complaint by one of the women and found nothing to substantiate it.
Furlong, armed with the RCMP's conclusion, went on a round of media interviews Monday and Tuesday to proclaim his vindication. If the RCMP investigated the other two complaints they would reach the same conclusion, he said.
"It's been living in hell so it's time to stop it, so at the beginning of the week I've started this process and it's time to take my life back," he said with a tinge of anger in an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press.
"The RCMP cleared my name, so this was a pivotal moment for me."
But the RCMP has said its file "remains open," though a spokesman declined to comment further because civil actions are underway.
Furlong said he has "no idea" why the case is still open.
A lawyer for Robinson said it means Furlong's name isn't as clear as he thinks.
"It appears that there's an open file of some sort and (the RCMP have) not completed their investigation," Bryan Baynham said.
"That doesn't mean that he's cleared."
This is a "non-story about one interchange with the RCMP," Baynham said.
"There's nothing newsworthy about this other than Mr. Furlong wanting to have a hook to mount an attack against my client."
Furlong suggested all of the allegations against him stem from Robinson.
"She's perpetuated this, she's advanced this and she has attacked me every which way that she can," he said.
"It feels like a flat out campaign in the hands of this activist/reporter."
Furlong said he is "escalating" his defamation lawsuit against Robinson. He accused her of having a "pattern of inaccuracy in her writing," citing several past stories as examples.
"The concern I have and one of the reasons I'm doing this is this that this has felt like a complete ambush on my life and my family and no one should have to live like this or put up with this," he said.
"My goal is to stop her from doing it to somebody else and to achieve a remedy for my own life and my own family."
Robinson, who is in Denmark to speak at a conference, said in email that she wishes she could go to court tomorrow.
"Furlong has sent out another set of lies about me, but you can only shoot the messenger for so long," she wrote.
Her lawyer said she objects to "just about everything" in Furlong's statement, particularly suggestions that her work is motivated by personal attacks.
"That's just Mr. Furlong's attempt to change the dial from focusing on his conduct," Baynham said.
"(Robinson) is an investigative journalist who takes on tough cases about abuse and people in power exerting power against those without power in the sporting establishment and not surprisingly she ruffled some feathers over the years."
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