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Third lawsuit alleging abuse filed against Furlong

The same day John Furlong filed court papers denying he abused two girls at a Burns Lake, B.C. elementary school in 1969 and 1970, a third person has accused the former Vancouver Olympics boss of physical and sexual crimes.

A 53-year-old man, who claimed he was a nine-year-old student at Immaculata Catholic elementary in 1969 and 1970, alleged in B.C. Supreme Court filings on Sept. 23 that Furlong isolated him in a small room after class on three occasions and sexually molested him.

The filing recounted the alleged incidents in graphic detail. It said that during and after the incidents, "Furlong called the plaintiff a dirty little Indian."

"John Furlong told the plaintiff that if he ever told anyone about the abuse, no one would believe him," said the claim.

None of the allegations has been proven in court and Furlong has not responded to the latest filing.

The man's name is on the court document, but his lawyer, Jason Gratl, said he does not want it published. The two other complainants, Beverly Mary Abraham and Grace Jessie West, consented to publication of their names.

The statement of claim also alleges officials of the Catholic Church in Vancouver and Prince George and local Catholic school authorities knew Furlong was a risk to children and did nothing to prevent the abuse. The statement of claim said the plaintiff suffered health and psychological problems and conditions as a result of the abuse.

"Following the abuse, the plaintiff was intimidated by the defendants and their influence, he was suffering emotionally and psychologically from the abuse and he was generally disempowered as a result of racism and geographic isolation. He did not seek legal advice and was unaware that he could bring legal action," said the document.

It also said the words spoken by Furlong at a Sept. 27, 2012 news conference -- where he emphatically denied abusing children and alleged an accuser tried to blackmail him -- "damaged the plaintiff's reputation and deepened the emotional and psychological injuries caused by his physical and sexual abuse."

The accusations follow, but were not part of, an article in the Georgia Straight written by Laura Robinson alleging that Furlong had verbally and physically abused students when he was a young physical education teacher in the Burns Lake area. Furlong is suing the Georgia Straight and Robinson for defamation. After the Georgia Straight and Robinson filed defences to Furlong's suit, Furlong filed on July 26 a rebuttal saying he has never verbally, physically or sexually harmed aboriginal children.

Bob Mackin is a veteran Vancouver-based reporter who files regularly to The Tyee.

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