The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says it is launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the beating in a Toronto jail in 2012 of Scott MacIntyre, the former common-law partner of Rob Ford's sister.
The announcement comes one day after Mr. MacIntyre filed a lawsuit, seeking a total of $1.5-million in damages, alleging that the attack was initiated to protect Mr. Ford and was orchestrated by Aedan Petros, a fellow inmate and former high school football star previously coached by the Toronto mayor.
Mr. MacIntyre suffered a severely broken leg and the loss of four teeth in the March, 2012, attack. The province and Madeleine Meilleur, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, are named as defendants as a result of what Mr. MacIntyre claims was a repeated refusal by jail staff to move him to a more secure part of the facility and a failure to provide timely medical care. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the ministry said that there was an internal review of the incident in 2012 and "that review was closed."
However on Thursday, Andrew Morrison, a different ministry spokesperson, told The Globe the matter was being reopened.
"It has recently come to light that there was a potential breach in policy," he said. The provincial Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations branch will conduct the internal review, Mr. Morrison said. He did not provide details about the potential breach.
A spokesman for Ms. Meilleur did not respond Thursday to a request for comment from the minister.
The allegations, none of which have been proven in court, claim the attack was designed to silence Mr. MacIntyre about Mr. Ford's use of illegal drugs and association with criminals. Mr. Ford and Mr. Petros have also been named as defendants. Mr. MacIntyre, who has a lengthy criminal record, was in custody at the Toronto West Detention Centre on charges of threatening Mr. Ford at the time.
Lawyers representing Mr. Ford have dismissed the allegations. The mayor's lawyer and adviser Dennis Morris called them "without fact or foundation." Mr. Ford is required to file a statement of defence within the next 30 days.
Whether or not the victim of a serious assault in jail is willing to identify his attackers, does not absolve the authorities of the obligation to carry out a thorough investigation, said Edward Sapiano, a Toronto defence lawyer. "Every homicide involves a victim that cannot co-operate. We still prosecute these crimes," Mr. Sapiano stated. "The victim is not the only source of evidence. There would have been blood and all kinds of other evidence," he said.
It is also not surprising that Mr. MacIntyre declined to give a statement. "He had already been beaten once. Co-operation could further endanger him," said Mr. Sapiano.
Mark Pugash, a spokesman for the Toronto police, said whether or not a criminal investigation is launched is up to Mr. MacIntyre. "If he reports a crime to us, we will investigate," Mr. Pugash said Thursday.
In an e-mailed statement Wednesday, the Ministry of Correctional Services said police were not contacted because "the individual in question refused to co-operate in any investigation."
While Mr. MacIntyre admits he told a jail official in 2012 that he couldn't say who carried out the attack, he stated that he was not interviewed about the beating until nearly a month later and after he had been transferred to the medical wing of another jail. "Toronto police never came to see me [about the attack]," said Mr. MacIntyre, in a Jan. 24 interview.
Immediately after the assault, the jail guards did not appear interested in finding out who was responsible, Mr. MacIntyre is alleging. He was treated briefly in the medical wing of the jail and then transferred to segregation where a guard presented him with documents to sign that indicated he fell in the shower area. "The very first day when it happened, the guy was throwing papers in my face. Sign this. I signed it and said get out of here," said Mr. MacIntyre. "My leg was broken and I was in excruciating pain and they were not worried about getting me any medical care," he added. It was not until 36 hours after the assault that Mr. MacIntyre was taken to hospital, leading to complications in his medical treatment, his statement of claim alleges. As well, the claim notes that the video camera in the area the attack took place was not functioning.
Monte Vieselmeyer, spokesman for the branch of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union that represents employees at the Toronto West Detention Centre, said he "can't speak to the specifics" of the allegations in the lawsuit. "We are very professional. We are very concerned when there is inmate-on-inmate violence. In our job, we deal with lawsuits. It's the type of clientele we deal with," said Mr. Vieselmeyer.
With files from Greg McArthur