Olympics spokesperson testifies at John Furlong's defamation trial

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The woman who handled media relations for the 2010 Olympics took the stand Wednesday at John Furlong’s defamation trial.

Renee Smith-Valade says Laura Robinson, the freelance journalist suing Furlong, wrote negative stories about Olympic organizers that were never balanced.

She says her first memory of involved a media scrum in which Robinson accused her of being a “pretty face” and made derogatory comments about men.

Smith-Valade says Robinson’s 2012 article accusing Furlong of child abuse contained errors, including claims he tried to hide his past as a teacher in Burns Lake from VANOC employees.

In April 2013, she says Robinson gave her a letter after an awkward encounter on a plane and she was “stunned” to read unproven claims that Furlong had abused dozens of children, including one who later committed suicide.

Smith-Valade, who is now Furlong’s partner, says she immediately handed that letter, inviting her to be an off-the-record source, over to his lawyers.

Robinson is suing Furlong, arguing he accused her of going after him in a personal vendetta, and not for journalism.

Furlong has repeatedly denied all claims of child abuse.

 

Originally published on CKNW.com

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