John Furlong is shown during an interview with The Canadian Press in Vancouver

Furlong seeks to dismiss sexual-abuse lawsuit

Former Vancouver Olympics boss seeks to dismiss sexual abuse lawsuit

  • Jan. 29, 2015 4:00 p.m.

By Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – A British Columbia judge has reserved a decision on whether to throw out a sexual abuse lawsuit against former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong.

Grace West filed the suit in 2013, alleging Furlong sexually abused her while he was a teacher at Immaculata School in Burns Lake in 1969 and 1970.

Furlong’s lawyer has applied to have West’s lawsuit dismissed, arguing that she went to a different school at the time of the alleged abuse.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Miriam Gropper reserved her decision after a hearing on the application Thursday. It was not immediately clear when she will deliver her ruling.

The application claims that West’s name does not appear in student records for Immaculata and that records show she was attending St. Joseph’s School in Smithers.

When Furlong’s lawyers interviewed West in 2014 as part of pre-trial proceedings, she was asked to list the schools she had attended but Immaculata was not among them, according to the application.

She was unable to initially remember the name of the school she attended where she said the abuse occurred, Furlong’s lawyers say, adding that after a break she said the school’s name was Immaculata.

Records for St. Joseph’s School show that a Jessie West with the same birth date and father’s name attended between 1966 and 1970, according to the court documents, which also say that West went by Jessie — her middle name — until she was 16 years old.

“The evidence is clear that Ms. West did not attend Immaculata during the relevant time period,” the application says, adding that if this evidence is accepted, “the action must be dismissed.”

West is one of three people who alleged sexual abuse by Furlong. Beverly Abraham dropped her lawsuit last month, while an unidentified man’s legal action has been undermined by court documents that suggest he attended a different school at the time of the alleged abuse.

Furlong has vehemently denied the allegations.

Lawyer Jason Gratl initially represented all three of the claimants but recently withdrew from the two remaining lawsuits.

He said Thursday that he couldn’t comment on the reasons involved due to solicitor-client privilege.

Court documents say that West has not obtained a new lawyer and has not replied to correspondence since August. Furlong’s lawyers also say that she has not provided information they have requested.

No application has been made to dismiss the unidentified man’s lawsuit and a trial is scheduled to begin March 30. He has also alleged Furlong abused him at Immaculata in 1969 and 1970.

Court documents produced by Furlong’s lawyers indicate the man filed a claim for compensation under the Indian residential schools settlement, in which he said he attended Lejac Residential School in Fraser Lake, B.C., from 1966 to 1975.

The Canadian Press has a policy of not naming alleged sex assault victims. Both West and Abraham agreed to have their names published while the man did not.

Allegations related to Furlong’s time as a teacher in northern B.C. first surfaced in 2012, when a weekly Vancouver-based newspaper published an article accusing him of physical and verbal abuse.

Furlong filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper and reporter Laura Robinson, though he later dropped the newspaper as a plaintiff. Robinson, in turn, filed her own defamation lawsuit against Furlong.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

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