NEWS
06/17/2015 17:15 EDT | Updated 06/17/2016 01:12 EDT

Journalist wanted to `bring down' ex-Olympics CEO John Furlong: B.C. lawyer

VANCOUVER - A lawyer for John Furlong says a journalist embarked on a campaign to discredit the former Vancouver Olympics CEO because she was critical of male authority figures.In a heated exchange, John Hunter accused Laura Robinson of believing that Furlong was guilty of beating and taunting First Nations students at a Roman Catholic school in Burns Lake."Your whole intention here was to bring down Mr. Furlong, wasn't it?" Hunter said Wednesday. "He was one of those male authority figures you like to criticize and you thought you had the goods on him, didn't you?""That's incorrect," said Robinson, who is suing Furlong for defamation over public comments he made after she wrote a newspaper article about the allegations against him.The September 2012 story published in the Georgia Straight included sworn affidavits from eight former students who said Furlong abused them while he was a physical education teacher about 45 years ago.But Hunter said a first draft of Robinson's story included allegations of sexual abuse that were cut out by the Georgia Straight and the Toronto Star, which later chose not to run the story.He said Robinson wanted the sexual abuse allegations to come out and that she included them in an Anishinabek News article published a day after the Straight story.She denied the allegation.Hunter grilled Robinson about a notice she placed in the Burns Lake band office's newsletter that said she was looking for former Immaculata School students who were abused by Furlong."Are you not aware that this is the worst way to go about doing those interviews?" Hunter said. "Why did you identify the target of your investigation?"Robinson replied that there were often multiple abusers at residential schools and she wanted to make it clear who she was asking about.Hunter also said she was an hour late to a meeting in the Burns Lake band office, where 35 people had showed up, and he questioned whether this raised the danger of collusion."I don't know what they said to each other in advance," she replied. "My experience with them, and many, many other survivors of abuse is that they don't talk about it. It's not casual conversation unless it's in a trusted environment."While Robinson was pursuing the story in the spring and summer of 2012, she sent emails outlining the abuse allegations, with sworn affidavits attached, to the Canadian Olympic Committee and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.Hunter said she had already made up her mind at that point about Furlong's guilt and that she was attempting to "discredit" him with the mayor, who never replied to the email.Robinson said that was untrue. She testified she wanted to know whether the committee and the city had done their due diligence in researching Furlong before appointing him as Olympics boss.Earlier Wednesday, Robinson told B.C. Supreme Court that she exchanged emails with Furlong's lawyer in the spring of 2012. Marvin Storrow flatly denied the allegations but didn't answer questions and instead demanded all the information she had collected, she said.Robinson said she eventually sent Storrow six affidavits and a photograph of Furlong working as a national women's basketball coach in Ireland in 1975. That appeared to contradict a claim in his autobiography that he arrived in Canada in 1974.— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.