Toronto mayor denies latest allegations

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TORONTO -- Toronto's mayor, in an obscenity-laced statement on live television, denied Thursday that he pressured a female employee for oral sex and also threatened to take legal action against former staffers who spoke to police about his drinking and drug use.

Rob Ford, who admitted last week to smoking crack, later announced that he was getting professional help. But he once again refused to step down and used a typical mix of contrition and defiance in several public appearances Thursday.

He wore a football jersey to a City Council session, where outraged council members turned their backs each time he spoke and again called upon him to step aside. Later, Councilor Karen Stintz said the city has suspended all school trips to City Hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.

Mr. Ford drew gasps from reporters Thursday morning when he used an obscenity as he denied telling a staffer he wanted to have oral sex.

"I've never said that in my life to her; I would never do that," he said on live television. The father of two school-age children said he is "happily married" and used crude language to say he enjoys enough oral sex at home.

Mr. Ford later apologized for his remarks at a news conference. He explained that he was pushed "over the line" by newly released court documents that included allegations against him involving cocaine, escorts and prostitution.

He called the allegations "100 percent lies." He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to "see red."

The mayor said he would take legal action against his former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, and two other aides over their interviews with police that were detailed in court documents released Wednesday.

Mr. Ford, 44, was elected as a conservative in 2010 on a wave of discontent from Toronto's outer suburbs over what voters considered wasteful spending and elitist politics at City Hall.

But his term has been consumed by revelations of bad behavior, from public drunkenness to crack smoking to threatening to kill someone in a videotaped, incoherent rant.

The court documents released Wednesday are part of a drug case against Mr. Ford's friend and occasional driver. Police interviews with Mr. Ford's ex-staffers revealed their concerns about his drug use and drunk driving, with one staffer alleging that another saw him "impaired, driving very fast," and frightening the female employee who was in the car with him.

The council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ask Mr. Ford to take a leave of absence, but the motion was non-binding because the council lacks authority to force the mayor from office unless he is convicted of a crime. The council is set to consider another motion today to strip Mr. Ford of some of his powers.

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