John Furlong claims vindication

What happened or did not happen in Burns Lake at centre of law suits.

John Furlong has broken his silence on the allegations of physical, mental and emotional abuse levelled against him in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper by journalist Laura Robinson last summer.

Robinson’s Sept. 26, 2012 article alleged that sworn affidavits from eight students of the former Immaculata School in Burns Lake revealed Furlong to have been physically abusive of some students during his time there as a physical education teacher in the late 1960s.

Furlong vehemently denied the allegations as soon as they came out in print. Under legal counsel he went silent on the matter once defamation suits had been filed against the Georgia Straight and Robinson.

Three former Burns Lake students, Beverly Abraham, Grace Jessie West and Daniel Morice eventually filed civil suits against Furlong last summer alleging sexual abuse at his hands during their time at Immaculata school.

On Oct. 28 2013, Global News broke the story that the RCMP criminal investigation into Abraham’s allegations had concluded months earlier in April with no evidence found to support Abraham’s claims.

In a televised broadcast interview with Furlong, Global aired a letter sent to Furlong’s lawyer from the RCMP case investigator stating, ‘the RCMP have concluded their investigation into the matter and have found nothing to substantiate the complaint.”

During the interview Furlong expressed relief that his name had been cleared, although BC RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Rob Vermeulen later said, “Due to the serious and sensitive nature of the allegations… we asked for an independent review of our complete investigation by major crime investigators from another province. That review resulted in a number of investigative recommendations that we continue to follow up on. Our overall file remains open at this time.”

Abraham’s civil suit, as well as the other two suits, remain before the B.C. Supreme Court.

Furlong added that he had dropped his defamation suit against the Georgia Straight, but that his suit against Laura Robinson will continue.

“My defamation case against Laura Robinson will continue and be escalated — she is the perpetrator of these defamatory allegations,” Furlong said. “Ms. Robinson has a two decade-long pattern of inaccuracy in her writing. Her words have hurt innocent people.”

Abraham told Global News she was heartbroken at the news that the investigation had been concluded. She did not believe the RCMP had done a thorough investigation.

On July 29, 2013, Jason Gratl, attorney for Abraham and West, filed a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP alleging bias in the police investigation of his clients.

Despite the pending civil cases against Furlong, he takes the conclusion of the RCMP investigation into Abraham’s allegations to be his vindication.

“After a thorough investigation, the RCMP have cleared me of the allegations that Ms. Robinson brought to the RCMP on behalf of Beverley Abraham in the summer of 2012,” Furlong said.

RCMP will not comment on any ongoing investigations in consideration of the multiple civil actions before the courts.


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