Abuse Allegations Against Olympics Organizer

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – The head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics sexually abused two girls long ago when he taught at a Catholic school in British Columbia, two women claim in separate lawsuits.
     The women filed similar complaints against John Furlong, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Roman Catholic Prince George Diocese, and Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George, in British Columbia Supreme Court.
     Beverly Mary Abraham and Grace Jessie West claims Furlong abused them in 1969 and 1970 when he was a gym teacher and they were students at Immaculata Roman Catholic Elementary School, in Burns Lake, B.C.
     West claims Furlong kicked her in the butt, legs and back almost every day and called her a “dirty Indian” and a “squaw.”
     She claims Furlong sexually molested her on a weekly basis before she told her father, who confronted the defendants and removed her from the school.
     “The abuse of the plaintiff by John Furlong violated the plaintiff’s sexual integrity and caused her to suffer health and psychological problems and conditions, including anxiety and depressive conditions and difficulty forming appropriate and enduring sexual and emotional bonds,” the complaint states.
     Abraham claims that Furlong molested her about a dozen times and “emotionally and psychologically manipulated” her by telling her she was his “protégé” and his “favourite of all the girls.”
     “Following the abuse, the plaintiff was intimidated by the defendants and their influence, suffering emotionally and psychologically from the abuse, and was generally disempowered as a result of racism and geographic isolation,” the complaint states.
     Both women say they were unaware that they could take legal action, and sought help after Furlong held a news conference in September 2012 to respond to a lengthy exposé published in the Georgia Straight about Furlong’s past in Burns Lake. Furlong vigorously denied the allegations and has sued the paper in November 2012, alleging defamation.
     Both women claim Furlong defamed them during the news conference by implying that his accusers were lying and trying to extort him.
     Abraham and West seek damages for physical and sexual abuse and defamation.
     They are represented by Jason Gratl of Vancouver.

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