Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ford fires back on touching charge

Ex-rival's allegations 'completely false'

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TORONTO -- Toronto's controversial mayor accused a former political foe of crying wolf Friday after she accused him of making suggestive comments and touching her inappropriately at a political event.

Rob Ford released a statement denying Sarah Thomson's allegations, which were made via Facebook and in a series of interviews with local media outlets.

Ford said he was "shocked, dismayed and surprised" to learn of the claims from Thomson, who ran against him for the city's top job in 2010.

He described the allegations as "completely false" while also criticizing her for launching her allegations on International Women's Day.

"What is more surprising is that a woman who has aspired to be a civic leader would cry wolf on a day where we should be celebrating women across the globe," Ford said in the statement.

"It is a day when we can envision the changes we want to make in our communities to ensure that all people are equal and that violence and discrimination against women comes to an end."

Thomson said the contentious encounter took place Thursday night at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee party when she asked why he had missed an event last week.

"He said, 'I was in Florida. You should have come with me, you know, my wife wasn't there.' And I'm looking at him going, 'What?"' Thomson told radio station NewsTalk 1010 on Friday.

"Then he said, 'Yeah, we could have had some fun.' And I kind of thought, 'OK, this is not him. This is weird.' And then I just turned and got my picture taken and he grabbed my ass and I'm thinking, 'What the heck is going on with him?"'

Thomson, publisher of the Women's Post and a transit activist, said she asked Ford what was wrong with him and he laughed it off.

"I walked away and I wanted to punch him in the face. You know, it's just one of those things where you just kind of go, how dare you?"

Ford seemed out of it, Thomson said, suggesting he might have a substance abuse problem, though she said he didn't appear inebriated.

Ford did not address Thomson's allegations of substance abuse in his statement, but his chief of staff Mark Towhey denied his boss was intoxicated.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2013 A24

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