A former teacher who worked alongside John Furlong during his time as head of the physical education department at Prince George College said Furlong was never abusive towards his students.
In 1974, Furlong was recruited to take over the phys-ed program at Prince George College, which later became O'Grady Catholic high school.
Abuse allegations, made by a group of eight of Furlong's former students from Burns Lake, where he taught at Immaculata Elementary beginning in 1969, were published Thursday in the Georgia Straight, a Vancouver-based weekly newspaper.
The Catholic nun, who was unable to obtain permission from her Immaculate Conception parish to publicly identify herself, taught physical education with Furlong from the time he arrived in Prince George as a landed immigrant in 1974 and there were never any complaints about him.
"When I worked with John there nothing like that at all," she said.
"The students liked him. There was no talk, and no complaints at all in his time at P.G. College. I worked very intensely with all the kids, too. There was nothing at all. It was all above board."
The Prince George nun said she could not speak for any allegation against Furlong during his time in Burns Lake because she did not know him then, but said he never demonstrated any racist attitudes or physically hurt any of his Prince George College students.
"I think maybe, with everything going on, it's so easy to make claims," the sister said.
"All us teachers worked very closely together and to my knowledge there was nothing at all. I certainly didn't see any of that in all my years of working with him. He was a very good teacher. I taught business and phys-ed and coached alongside with him and took kids away on trips together and there definitely was nothing [abusive]. In fact, together we took a girls team and boys team to a native basketball tournament in Victoria in the '70s sometime and we won them both, and came home and it was all good."
Before coming to Prince George in 1974, Furlong told The Citizen last year that he came to Burns Lake as a member of the Frontier Apostolate, an order invented by then Bishop Fergus O'Grady of the Prince George Diocese.
Current vicar general of the Prince George Diocese, Father Richard Beaudette, said Furlong was one of those who came to the area to help in area schools, but there are no easily accessible records of his time in that position.
"He came as a Frontier Apostle. It was a volunteer position. Two years was the usual term," said Beaudette. "That program ended in the mid-80s. We had people recruited to work in northern B.C. from all over the world. The bishop at the time was trying to establish schools and get other things going, so he recruited people who were teachers, for one thing, and others who would physically build the buildings or drive the school buses, all kinds of stuff. There are former Frontier Apostles still all over the north."
After serving at Prince George College, Furlong took on a position with the City of Prince George as recreation director and formed the first Northern B.C. Winter Games Society as president and general manager.
The inaugural Games in 1978 in Prince George, drew 5,600 competitors in 36 events.
Furlong moved to Nanaimo in 1979.