Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is asking for a lawsuit filed against him by his former brother-in-law Scott MacIntyre to be dismissed, describing the claim that he orchestrated a jailhouse beating as “patently absurd.”
Mr. MacIntyre, the former common-law partner of Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, filed a $1.5-million lawsuit against the mayor in January, alleging that Mr. Ford had conspired with former high-school football player Aedan Petros to have him beaten at Toronto West Detention Centre in March, 2012.
But in a statement of defence filed this week – which also includes the mayor’s first-ever explanation of a bizarre video that shows him threatening to kill someone – Mr. Ford says Mr. MacIntyre’s claim “knowingly lacks merit, is frivolous, and vexatious.”
In an earlier interview with The Globe, Mr. MacIntyre said he believed the attack – in which he had his teeth shattered and leg broken – was arranged by Mr. Ford to “keep my mouth shut” about the mayor’s alleged drug use. Mr. MacIntyre said that the attack came after weeks of threats from other inmates who told him to “do the right thing.”
Mr. MacIntyre was in custody at the time on charges of threatening the mayor, and Mr. Petros was housed in the same unit of the jail.
The mayor’s statement, however, says that Mr. MacIntyre’s allegation that the mayor had conspired with Mr. Petros, a fellow coach and prison staff to execute the attack “is beyond any rational possibility or air of reality. The allegations in the statement of claim are patently absurd on their face.” He adds that claims appear to be “designed for the collateral and improper purpose of maximizing publicity and notoriety.”
Also named in the lawsuit are Payman Aboodowleh (a former football coach at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, where Mr. Ford was head coach until 2013), Mr. Petros and Ontario’s Minister of Correctional Services. It’s unknown whether the other parties have filed their statements of defence yet.
The mayor’s statement also explains for the first time a video that emerged in November of the mayor in a profanity-laced rant, saying repeatedly that he wants to kill someone. That video was purchased by the Toronto Star for $5,000. Shortly after it was made public, the mayor admitted to having been “extremely, extremely inebriated” as it was being filmed.
Earlier this month, in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the mayor told the late-night host he has no idea who he’s referring to in that video.
But the mayor denies in his statement of defence that it’s Mr. MacIntyre he’s talking about – as Mr. MacIntyre's lawsuit claims – adding he was merely “discussing and imitating, as a joke, the prematch rant of a professional wrestler. This was in anticipation of a charity event which was contemplated in 2013.”
That same year, the mayor participated in an arm-wrestling competition with Hulk Hogan at the Fan Expo event in Toronto.
And though the mayor has refused to discuss the circumstances in which that video was filmed, the statement provides a few more details. According to his statement, the mayor had no idea he was being filmed at the time, and does not know who filmed the video. He describes the setting as “a private social gathering in a private residence.”
When asked about the lawsuit Thursday in Scarborough, where he met with residents to talk about tree removal, the mayor said he would not be commenting on the case.
Mayor Ford has been the focus of intense media attention over the past year, after it was revealed that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor.” Just this week, a newly unsealed police document revealed new details of that video, as well as the observation from investigators that the mayor’s meetings with his friend, alleged drug dealer Alessandro Lisi, were “indicative of drug trafficking.”
The mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, also refused to comment on the lawsuit.
With a report from Shannon Kari