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Lawyer accuses RCMP of pro-Furlong bias

The lawyer for two aboriginal women suing John Furlong for physical, psychological and sexual abuse is accusing the RCMP of bias.

Jason Gratl's July 29 letter to Ian McPhail, Commissioner for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, called the RCMP investigation of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics CEO Furlong "haphazard."

"RCMP investigators delayed the commencement of the investigation without reason, have not been diligent in attempting to contact key witnesses and have not attempted to obtain key documentation dealing with what happened at Immaculata Elementary in 1969 and 1970 from the Catholic diocese that administered the school," Gratl wrote.

Gratl represents Beverly Abraham and Grace West, whose July 24 B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit claims Furlong abused them while he was a physical education teacher at Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake, B.C. in 1969 and 1970. Furlong, who has denied he abused children, has yet to file a response.

On July 26, he filed a rebuttal to last January's defamation defence statements by the Georgia Straight and journalist Laura Robinson, claiming that the RCMP "found nothing to substantiate the complaint or allegation."

"As a result, counsel for the plaintiff Furlong has been informed no charges have been laid and no report will be made to Crown counsel," said lawyer John Hunter's filing on behalf of Furlong.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen told The Tyee on July 24 that the investigation was "ongoing" and on July 26 said "our file has not been fully concluded." He had no comments on Gratl's letter.

"One or more persons acting on behalf of the RCMP improperly communicated with Mr. Furlong's legal counsel," wrote Gratl, who noted how Furlong worked "very closely" with senior RCMP members who led the $900 million Olympic security effort.

"The RCMP have a heightened duty to ensure that the sexual assault investigations of Mr. Furlong do not appear to be tainted by interference, indifference or incompetence," Gratl wrote. "To date, that duty has not been met."

Gratl said his clients want to be assured the RCMP is undertaking a reasonable investigation that conforms to minimum standards for major cases, including reasonable efforts to pursue documentary evidence and contact potential witnesses.

He also wants the RCMP to ensure investigators are not influenced by officers loyal to or friends with Furlong and that they submit a report to Crown counsel and the Ministry of Justice upon completion of the probe. He also wants the RCMP to identify the investigators who made contact with Furlong's lawyer "to ascertain the contents of their communication."

Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee.

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