Controversial Toronto councillor says he's not guilty of charges

Toronto City Coun. Rob Ford says he will plead not guilty to criminal charges of assault and making a death threat.

Toronto City Coun. Rob Ford says he will plead not guilty to criminal charges of assault and making a death threat.

Ford, who was arrested and charged Wednesday, talked about the charges against him on Thursday morning on a Toronto radio station.

Ford also added some detail about events at his home this week that resulted in the charges.

Lawyer Dennis Morris told that his client was arrested in his Etobicoke home Wednesday morning after being accused of committing an assault earlier that day. Morris said Ford denies the assault took place and will plead not guilty.

"Our position is that these offences never did occur," Morris said, noting that in cases of alleged spousal abuse, police are obliged to make an arrest.

"That puts the other party in a very defenceless situation.… Police virtually have their hands tied between a rock and a hard place. They must make an arrest without an investigation."

Toronto police confirmed that Ford was arrested and charged, but would not reveal the identity of his accuser.

Mainly, Ford has been referring the media to his lawyer, but he did show up for his regular Thursday morning radio appearance on AM 640.

The usually talkative councillor was tight-lipped about his arrest on Wednesday morning after a 911 call to police by Renata Ford, his wife of eight years.

But he added a few details to the timeline of events.

'I had to do what I had to do'

Ford described a separate incident involving his wife at his house on Tuesday night. In that case, he said, he was the one who called 911.

Ford said police advised him to leave the house with the couple's two children.

The following morning Renata Ford called police. Rob Ford was then arrested and charged.

"I had to do what I had to do, to make sure my kids were safe and I was safe," Ford told AM 640. "That's all I can say right now." 

Ford said he is innocent and will fight the charges in court when he makes his first appearance on April 28.

The Children's Aid Society was called in to investigate as well, and Morris said the agency and the police have given Ford custody of the couple's two young children. Ford and the children will live outside the family home, the lawyer said.

The Ward 2 councillor says he will continue to serve his constituents.

"The only people that are going to take me down are my constituents and I serve my constituents well. When they call me I go to bat for them, and if they choose not to re-elect me in the next election. That's their prerogative." 

Toronto Mayor David Miller refused to be drawn out when asked whether Ford should step down while facing charges. 

"That's a decision he'll have to make, past that I really can't comment.  You know he's been charged with some very, very serious offences and it's up to the courts to decide whether those charges are upheld or not. While they're in the courts I just simply can't comment — it would not be appropriate," said Miller.

Brad Ross, a spokesman for the city of Toronto, believes there's nothing in law to prevent Ford from continuing his duties as a councillor. He said the only thing to stop a councillor from continuing his or her duties is incarceration.

Ford has made headlines as a fiscally prudent councillor who has a reputation for making off-the-cuff and often controversial comments.

Earlier this month, he refused to apologize for urging Torontonians to adopt the work ethic of those in Asian countries, a comment he made during a council debate.

"Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out.… They sleep beside their machines. That's why they're successful in life," Ford said.

Ford argued that his comments were meant as a compliment.

He's also drawn heat over the years for calling Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby a "waste of skin" and Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti a "Gino-Boy."