Furlong’s reputation at risk amid abuse allegations
It may take years of hard work for former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong to build up his reputation again now that he is the subject of abuse allegations, according to one expert.
Furlong, who was awarded the Order of Canada last year, vehemently denied allegations of physical abuse leveled against him in Vancouver newspaper, the Georgia Straight Thursday.
The article claims that eight people have signed affidavits alleging they were mentally and physically abused by Furlong when he was teaching physical education at the Catholic Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake, B.C. in 1969.
If the claims are false, it would still take a ton of effort for Furlong to build up his reputation as an exemplary Canadian again, said Linda Bilben of Reputations, a company that builds and repairs damaged reputations.
“The saying from Warren Buffet is that it takes 25 years to build a great reputation and about a moment to have it destroyed; however there are tactics,” she said. “Certainly we’ve seen many, many high-profile individuals and organizations that have undergone major crisis that fixed what has been broken.”
Beverly Abraham, a former student at Immaculata Elementary, recently alleged that she was a victim of sexual touching by Furlong when she was 12 years old. Her claims are uncorroborated and she is the only former student who has made any allegations of sexual abuse.
Another former student, Ronnie Alec, alleged that he was kicked by Furlong. However, he told CTV News that he never witnessed, nor was he aware of any of the sexual abuse described by Abraham.
“We’re not going to get behind her,” he said. “I want to tell her that."
Furlong, who is now the executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps, admitted leaving his teaching stint at Immaculata and at Prince George College out of his autography, stating that his book focused on his involvement in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. But he denied all of the allegations of abuse, telling reporters on Thursday that “it just did not happen.” None of the allegations have been proven.
Furlong also said he will pursue legal action against the George Straight—a move applauded by Bilben, who says defending yourself in public and in court is the first step to rebuilding one’s reputation.
Some high-profile organizations and politicians, such as the Vancouver Whitecaps and Premier Christy Clark, have also thrown their support behind Furlong.
“I have never found him to be anything but a man of the highest integrity and ethics,” Clark said.
The RCMP have confirmed they are investigating.
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Shannon Paterson and Jon Woodward.