John Furlong accuser drops sex abuse lawsuit against former VANOC CEO
A woman who claimed she was abused by John Furlong while he was a teacher in Burns Lake, B.C., has dropped her lawsuit against the former head of the Vancouver Olympic Games.
Beverly Mary Abraham was the most outspoken of three people who filed claims in the wake of a Georgia Straight newspaper article alleging Furlong had mistreated students at Immaculata Roman Catholic School in the late 1960s.
“The reason for it is that it was kind of stressing me out,” Abraham said from her home in Burns Lake. “I’ve been thinking about it for months.”
Justice Miriam Gropper dismissed Abraham’s claim last Friday after she made an application in B.C. Supreme Court. The case was dismissed by consent, without costs to either party. The other two claims continue, but the CBC has learned the lawyer representing both remaining claimants is withdrawing from the lawsuits.
Furlong has vehemently denied the allegations in all three lawsuits and the newspaper story. He is suing the author of the article, Laura Robinson, but previously dropped a claim against the weekly paper that published the article in September 2012.
His counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers issued this statement in relation to Abraham:
“Mr. Furlong has always maintained that Ms. Abraham’s claim, as well as the claim of assault by the other two plaintiffs, are false. The dismissal follows the RCMP’s conclusion following an investigation that, ‘Based on the facts uncovered, the allegations made by Beverly Abraham are not supported.'”
Abraham says she asked her hereditary chiefs for advice about the lawsuit.
“I’ve asked them what should I do, because it’s been stressing me out and this has been years,” she said. “So what they told me is just forgive him, and leave him up to God.”
Furlong still faces suits from Grace Jessie West and a man who doesn’t want his name published, both of whom claim he sexually assaulted them while he was teaching in Burns Lake.
Lawyer Jason Gratl represented all three of the original claimants, but has withdrawn from Abraham and West’s suits, and has been approved for withdrawal from the third lawsuit.
Gratl said professional obligations prevented him from speaking to any of the latest legal developments.
“But what I can say is that in my view, there are very few inferences to be drawn from the situation.”
The trials of the remaining actions are set for March 30, 2015.
In court documents filed last week, Furlong said he was having “significant difficulty” communicating with West. Justice Gropper has ordered West to make a Supreme Court appearance related to the upcoming proceedings in late January.
She also ordered disclosure of the man’s residential school records.
The Roman Catholic diocese that ran Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake has filed statements of defence that say it could find no records indicating West or other man attended the school in the years they claimed to have been victims of abuse.
Abraham says she doesn’t think she’ll have to participate in the defamation lawsuit against Robinson. She says she’s glad to have any court proceedings behind her.
“I feel a lot better,” she said.
Furlong’s lawyer would not comment on the outstanding claims.