The very weird story of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took a turn towards the sad on Friday, after the Toronto Star published and then took down a report on a police investigation into a possible case of domestic abuse in the Ford household. (The original story is still available via Google's cache.) According to the story, which is based on a police report detailing an incident involving Ford's wife Renata about a year ago, no charges were filed.
According to the report, Renata arrived in a taxi at her parent's house late one night, appearing to be inebriated. Renata got into an argument with the cab driver, who then called the police on her. The Star explains what allegedly happened next:
[The police] observed that Mrs. Ford appeared to have bruising on her limbs. But, when asked about it, she refused to say how the injuries had been suffered. She was, in fact, too incoherent to say much of anything — either inebriated or on drugs
Police tried following up with Renata in the days following the incident, concerned that the bruises might indicated domestic abuse. But, the Star writes, "Mrs. Ford was not cooperative."
Star columnist Rosie DiManno, who wrote the story, told Talking Points Memo that the story was inadvertently set live "too early," and taken down in order to give the Fords more time to comment. DiManno did not say there were any factual issues in the story, however she does write in the piece that the Star's senior management decided to sit on the report for months after obtaining the police report. The version of events therein was confirmed with multiple law enforcement sources. Here's how DiManno justifies the paper's decision to hold, and now publish, the story:
Nobody here had any stomach for expanding the scandal engulfing Toronto’s mayor to encompass his family, thereby causing harm, particularly to the couple’s two young children. But there is a strong argument to be made that those kids are at risk.
Renata rarely makes media appearances, with or without her husband. But on Thursday, she stood by the mayor at news conference addressing a series of allegations contained in newly-released court documents. Those included inappropriate sexual comments by Ford to members of his staff, and a series of new allegations pertaining to his excessive drug and alcohol use, including an alleged drunk driving habit. Ford has promised to sue the three former staffers who talked to the police about Ford's behavior. On Friday, the City Council attempted to provide some partial protection to members of Ford's current staff who might disclose further details of the mayor's indiscretions. The Council stripped the mayor of some of his powers, including his ability to hire and fire many senior staffers.
This isn't the first time police have looked into a possible case of domestic abuse in the Ford household. In 2008, then-councillor Rob Ford placed a 911 call from his home following a dispute with his wife. The police charged him with assault and with uttering a death threat, according to the Star, but those charges were later dropped. There have been several other 911 calls from their home to police. According to the Star's sources, a member of the Ford family has in some way "intersected" with the police about two dozen times in the past eight years.