Another bombshell has dropped in the Rob Ford saga.
As council debated the 2014 budget on Wednesday afternoon, a statement of claim was being filed at a nearby courthouse that alleges the mayor organized a jailhouse beating.
Scott MacIntyre, the estranged common-law husband of Ford's sister Kathy, was attacked and seriously injured while he was incarcerated in the Toronto West Detention Centre in March of 2012.
In his statement of claim, the substance of which has not been proven in court, MacIntyre says the attack was perpetrated by Aedan Petros, a fellow inmate who played on the Don Bosco Eagles high school football team that the mayor used to coach.
Petros, Mayor Ford, and the Minister of Correctional Services are all named as defendants in the suit, as is Payman Aboodowleh, another former Don Bosco assistant coach who Ford recruited to join the team.
MacIntyre was jailed in early 2012 after he burst into the mayor's home in January, uttering threats and seeking to recover a debt owed to him by Kathy. The break-in occurred more than a year before sensational reports about the mayor's alcohol and crack cocaine use, and the statement claims that as MacIntyre was leaving Ford's house he said something that the mayor took to be a threat to expose his "longstanding" substance abuse issues and ties to criminals.
MacIntyre was sent to the detention centre where Petros, as well as another former Don Bosco Eagle named Rexford Williams, were serving time for a violent home invasion. The statement alleges that Ford became "highly agitated" that MacIntyre might expose him and that he and Aboodowleh "conspired to have the plaintiff threatened, and subsequently brutally beaten, while he was incarcerated."
MacIntyre alleges that while in prison Petros began threatening him, both personally and through other inmates, and despite MacIntyre's repeated requests to be moved to another part of the facility, corrections officials repeatedly put him in the same block as Petros. Ford and Aboodowleh "arranged for persons employed by [the detention centre]... to facilitate the exposure of the plaintiff to Petros, and to facilitate the attack on the plaintiff," the statement claims.
It's possible that the public may have already seen part of one of those alleged meetings. According to the claim, one of the get-togethers was recorded and "subsequently published on the Internet." The document alleges the video was shot at Aboodowleh's house, but no further details are given.
In November, the Toronto Star bought and published footage that showed a clearly inebriated Ford ranting about wanting to kill an unnamed person. At the time the video was published, Ford said he was "extremely, extremely inebriated" when its was shot, but would not reveal who was the target of his tirade.
The attack against MacIntyre occurred on March 22, 2012. He suffered a broken leg, cuts to his face, and severe dental damage. Despite the injuries, the statement claims that jail officials waited 36 hours to seek medical treatment for him. "Nobody came to the plaintiff's aid," the document alleges, noting that video surveillance at the site of the attack was "inexplicably disabled" at the time.
MacIntyre spent six months in the hospital and was left permanently disfigured by his injuries, which the statement alleges were made worse by the delay in getting treatment.
Rumours that yet another scandal was set to hit the mayor began swirling around lunchtime on Wednesday when Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, showed up at City Hall. Morris and Ford met in the mayor's office while the budget debate continued.
Shortly after the first reports about the suit were published, Morris gave a brief press conference in which he said the allegations were "without fact or foundation."
Morris said he had not had much time to confer with the mayor because Ford had been busy all day, but he denied that his client had conspired to assault MacIntyre. "It's very irresponsible and spurious" to say that Ford had anything to do with the alleged attack, Morris said.
When asked if Ford lacked credibility due to his repeated false denials about his crack scandal, Morris said: "I dispute that. He has tremendous credibility."
The lawyer said Ford plans to file a statement of defence.
Later in the day, the mayor held a brief scrum in which he railed against council's decision to back a 2.23 per cent property tax increase for 2014. He said the vote made it "probably the worst day since I've been mayor down here," but would not answer questions about the lawsuit.
Many councillors, frustrated that Ford's behaviour has repeatedly overshadowed city business, were unwilling to discuss the latest allegations against him. But Councillor Adam Vaughan, the mayor's most vocal critic, called Ford "the world's slowest train wreck." He predicted the mayor might not make it to the October election.
"The notion that this is over or behind him - the only person who thinks that is Rob Ford," Vaughan said. "You saw him here today, he's a spent force. He's a shadow of himself."
MacIntyre is seeking $1 million in general damages from all the defendants, and $100,000 each in punitive damages, as well as the cost of the lawsuit.
With files from Jonathan Goldsbie.
CORRECTION (1/30/2014, 1:20 am): This article originally stated that "Ford made an after-hours visit to the detention centre three days after the assault." In fact, Ford's after-hours visit occurred in March 2013, whereas the assault occurred in March 2012.
Here is the complete statement of claim, as filed in Superior Court on Wednesday. None of the allegations have been proven in court.