Canadian Olympics CEO accused of abuse of native Indian children
Irish-born John Furlong strongly denies charges made in newspaper
Sensational allegations of the abuse of native Indians made against Irish-born John Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and one of Canada’s most admired figures, have created a huge media storm.
Furlong, 62, a Tipperary native and now Executive Chairman of the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team and former Canadian of the year, was accused in a Vancouver newspaper of falsifying his biography which stated he arrived into Canada in 1974.
The paper says he had actually come to Canada in 1969 as a volunteer physical education teacher in a remote Indian community in British Columbia.
Eight students of the school he taught in say that he used vicious personal and physical abuse against them and one woman has claimed recovered memories of child abuse.
"All throughout the Olympics, I kept hearing from former students, 'This is the guy who did this to me, and look at him, right up there,"' Chief Wilf Adam of the Babine Nation who attended the school at the time told The Canadian Press.
"He was a mean person. What I saw at Immaculata, he used to slap the students, either boy or girl, and kick them in the ass, and sometimes kick them in the front side."
A tribal official said abuse was widespread at the time. "The abuse was widespread. That was kind of the norm, I guess," said the official. "I think it was a widespread, accepted practice to abuse kids."
Furlong has strongly denied the allegations and says he is suing the newspaper.
"I categorically deny absolutely any wrongdoing and I believe that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in looking into this matter will discredit the complaint entirely because it just did not happen," he told reporters.
He said he is suing the reporter and the newspaper, the Georgia Straight.
Furlong has admitted his biography, which states he arrived in Canada in 1974 is incorrect. He says that he did spend time at two schools in a remote part of British Columbia prior to his final emigration from Ireland in 1974.
He arrived at Immaculata Catholic School in 1969. By 1974, Furlong was back in Ireland, where his book says he was recruited for a high school in Prince George, B.C.
A long time friend Bill Beatty was one of his original contacts in Canada.
"We all grew up with the strap present in the school so hitting a child, corporal punishment, it wouldn't surprise me because it was the norm at the time but allegations of personal abuse with John, frankly I would find ludicrous," said Beatty, who is now an adjunct professor at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C.
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