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.
Under cross-examination by Robinson’s lawyer, Smith-Valade later admitted no action was taken to correct public misconceptions the journalist may have tried to blackmail Furlong.
He made reference to an extortion attempt at a news conference the day the Georgia Straight article was published, but didn’t mention her name.
Furlong has testified he never intended to implicate Robinson.