Responding anew to an allegation that he groped a female political rival at a party, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poured fuel on the fire by questioning whether his accuser was "playing with a full deck."
Former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson took to Facebook on Friday to claim the mayor grabbed her buttocks while she posed for a photograph with him at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee reception the previous night.
She also claimed Mr. Ford suggestively commented that she should have joined him on holiday in Florida the previous week because his wife was not there. In the absence of any way to prove or disprove the claims, the question of what took place that evening reverberated through the weekend.
Even in Georgetown, where Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday was playing in a hockey tournament, the accusation was a topic of conversation.
"A lot of people were talking about it," said Mr. Holyday, a veteran councillor and close ally of the mayor. "Several people mentioned the situation to me. But I can say that virtually every one of them supported Rob."
On his Sunday radio show, Mr. Ford said at first he did not want to talk about it. Then he aired an attack on Ms. Thomson.
"I've always said, I don't know if she's playing with a full deck from the first time I met her. And I told her that that night," he said.
Mr. Ford added Ms. Thomson had approached him during the soirée to talk about her campaign for a sales tax to fund transit expansion.
"I said 'No. You're crazy. Get out of here,' " he said. "When people, you know, want to make up stories, that's their prerogative."
Mr. Ford's radio co-hosts joined in, with Doug Ford calling Ms. Thomson's assertions "disgusting" and council Speaker Frances Nunziata referring to her as a "party crasher."
The mayor's comments drew a response from Ms. Thomson.
"Decades ago powerful men who sexually assaulted women would call them 'hysterical,' or 'crazy' to debase their credibility. It pushed many assaulted women into silence," Ms. Thomson said in a statement. "He will not push me into silence and I hope his accusations do not re-ignite the old fears that once silenced women."
How the matter can be put to rest remains an open question: Mr. Ford's camp hinted last week it was exploring legal options, but did not respond to questions about it Sunday.
Ms. Thomson, for her part, told The Globe she was still weighing her legal options, including whether to lodge a formal complaint with police.