Furlong says he 'cared for' Burns Lake students

Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong issued a 'final statement' Tuesday in response to a newspaper story that he allegedly abused students at a B.C. school where he taught more than 40 years ago.
John Furlong issued his 'final statement' on his time as a teacher in Burns Lake, B.C. 2:10

Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong issued a "final statement" Tuesday in response to a newspaper story that he allegedly abused students at a B.C. school where he taught more than 40 years ago.

Furlong said the statement aims to provide "clarity, context and background" to the story, adding that any future comments will be made by his lawyer.

"The past five days have been humiliating and demeaning beyond anything my family and I have ever experienced," the statement reads.

"My loved ones in Canada and Ireland have been subjected to scrutiny, sarcasm, disrespect and outrageous invasions of privacy. The story is a disgrace beyond words."

The accusations from at least eight students relate to Furlong’s year of teaching physical education at the Immaculata Elementary School, a Roman Catholic non-residential institution in Burns Lake, B.C., about 600 kilometres north of Vancouver. The school no longer exists.

Students who spoke to CBC News described alleged incidents where Furlong called students "stupid Indians," used a strap or yardstick to discipline pupils and hit one child with a basketball so hard they fell over.

In his autobiography, Patriot Hearts, Furlong does not mention Burns Lake or the school where he taught during the 1969-70 school year.

Furlong denies abusing students in Burns Lake, B.C. (CBC)

In the statement, Furlong says he tried to be a positive influence at the school, saying he "cared deeply for the students."

"As this time will be discussed at length in court, I can say only that as a volunteer teacher I treated everyone in a fair, appropriate manner and at no time unlawfully or harmfully," he said in the statement.

"I have never denied nor purposefully omitted speaking publicly of this time. It was not material in any way to my very difficult and emotional decision to leave Ireland permanently and where the story of my life as a Canadian begins."