In the Dire Straits song Industrial Disease, Mark Knopfler sings the great line - "two men says they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong."
That surely is the case with the explosive allegations contained in a Georgia Straight story Thursday afternoon that John Furlong, the CEO of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, verbally and physically abused students at Immaculata elementary school in Burns Lake. Furlong was doing missionary work after graduating from a Catholic high school in Dublin, according to the George Straight article, and taught gym class.
Eight former students filed sworn affidavits through Warren Chapman, a Burns Lake lawyer, that Furlong heaped physical and verbal abuse upon them during the year he taught there.
These affidavits are not criminal charges and the allegations inside these affidavits, as published by the George Straight, have not been heard in a court.
Both the George Straight and the author of the story, Laura Robinson, are definitely playing the Jesus card by publishing this story and the allegations made by the eight Burns Lake residents, without waiting to see if they merit criminal charges.
In other words, the George Straight believes eight people swearing in front of a lawyer that Furlong said and did these things 43 years ago is enough to warrant their story.
They're also pointing to the fact that Furlong did not mention this period of time in Burns Lake during his memoir, Patriot Hearts, as a sign that he didn't want anyone to know about his time there.
Furlong played the Jesus card right back Thursday afternoon at a hastily organized news conference in Vancouver, where he insisted the allegations are not true and that he plans to sue the reporter and the newspaper. Almost as an aside, he added someone asked him for money before the Olympics to make the problem go away and he referred that blackmail attempt to police.
Somebody is wrong here and in the coming days, the whole world will find out who.
As one Twitter post succinctly put it: "This is the beginning of the end for either John Furlong or the Georgia Straight."
For Furlong, who has captivated crowds in Prince George (he was the keynote speak at the Bob Ewert Memorial Dinner in April in Prince George and he received an honorary doctorate from UNBC in May) and around the world with his story of humble beginnings, hard work and teambuilding, this could leave his international reputation in ruins and cost him million in lost revenues from speaking engagements and leadership roles (he is currently the executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer club).
For the Georgia Straight, its reputation is also on the line. The free Vancouver weekly has won numerous awards for its aggressive journalism over the years. A successful libel suit by Furlong would cost the newspaper dearly in outright dollars, in trust from its readership and in support from its advertisers.
To put it bluntly, the Georgia Straight has bet its very existence that it's right about Furlong.
The reaction, both online and in the real world, has been strong.
There are some who are taking the allegations seriously and are automatically suspicious of Furlong because he's a powerful man. These people believe powerful men don't reach the top without stepping on little people all the way along.
There are some who hope the allegations aren't true but they are also sitting on the fence, waiting to see if there is substance to the accusations.
And there are those who refuse to believe a man like Furlong could have done such a thing.
Regardless of the outcome, Furlong's accomplishments as a leader and as the chief organizer of the Vancouver Winter Olympics remain.
Whether those accomplishments will be tarnished by his actions more than 40 years ago remains to be seen.