TORONTO — Toronto’s mayor denied Thursday that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, in an obscenity-laced statement on live television in which he 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 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 councilors turned their backs each time he spoke and again called on 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.
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,” Ford 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.
Ford later apologized for his remarks at a news conference. He explained 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.”
“I acted on complete impulse in my remarks,” Ford said.
Ford also said he didn’t want to comment on the particulars of the health care support he’s receiving and asked for privacy for his family.
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.
Ford did not specify what the aides might have said that was untrue. He also said he would take action against a waiter who said he believed Ford and a woman were snorting cocaine in a private room at a restaurant.
“I have to take legal action against the waiter who said I was doing lines,” he said. “Outright lies, that is not true.”
The conservative Ford, 44, was elected 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.