TORONTO (AFP) - Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has dug himself further into scandal by using crude, graphic language to deny claims he asked to perform oral sex on an aide.
Mr Ford, under fire for admitting using crack and allegedly abusing a prescription drug and other misconduct, drew gasps, giggles and at least one exclamation of "oh, my God" from reporters with his remarks on Thursday outside his office.
He later apologised, but it did seem to do any good.
At a city council meeting, many councilors turned their backs on Mr Ford when he stood to speak. One chided him for his "disgraceful language". While speaking to reporters, Mr Ford threatened to sue former staffers and others for telling the police they witnessed him allegedly snorting cocaine, and partying with a possible prostitute.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hinted for the first time she was weighing solutions to the crisis gripping her province's capital, including legislation to possibly oust the mayor.
Mr Ford - who has admitted smoking crack cocaine - angrily doubled down amid the latest allegations, which also suggest he abused the painkiller Oxycontin, drove while drunk and sent staffers to buy alcohol.
"It's unfortunate I have to take legal action," Mr Ford told the reporters outside his office. He branded the latest allegations "outright lies" and vowed to begin litigation shortly.
The claims were revealed in months of police interviews released on Wednesday that were used to obtain a search warrant in an investigation of Ford's friend Alessandro Lisi, who faces drug and extortion charges.
The leader of Canada's largest city and financial hub has seen his credibility plummet ever since admitting he once smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor". Mr Ford also has a history of erratic public behavior.
But the latest claims in the police files have not been tested in court, and Mr Ford does not himself face any criminal charges.
And despite seeing his radio show canceled last week over his scandalous behavior, Mr Ford will host a new weekly television programme with his brother Doug starting on Monday, Sun News Network announced.
Mr Ford named his former chief of staff and two subordinates as targets of his lawsuit, presumably for libel and defamation, for their vivid depictions of erratic behavior on St Patrick's Day in 2012.
The three staff were among revellers who joined Ford as he started the evening partying at City Hall.
One of them said he saw a petite blonde blue-eyed woman named Alana he believed was a sex worker.
The staffer told the police that there had been rumors that Mr Ford "had used escorts or prostitutes" and that Alana had previously been seen with Ford "at a stag party".
"It hurts my wife when they are calling a friend of mine a prostitute. Alana is not a prostitute. She's a friend and it makes me sick how people are saying this," said Mr Ford.
"I'm very happily married at home," he said.
According to police documents, the party moved to a private room at a local bar, where a waiter claimed he saw the mayor and a woman bent over a table and "heard two sniffs from both of them".
Mr Ford rejected this account and allegations that, over the course of the night, he made lewd suggestions to a female policy adviser and a female City Hall security guard.
In his denial, the mayor insisted his marriage is stable. But in doing so he again used graphic language about oral sex and this earned him further rebukes.
The Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts took issue with Mr Ford wearing their team jersey when he made the offending comments.
Yet later, at a press conference with his wife by his side, Mr Ford apologised for his earlier "graphic remarks". But he stopped short of retracting his threat of legal action.
"For the past six months, I have been under tremendous, tremendous stress. The stress is largely of my own making," he said. "I have apologised and I have tried to move forward."
The mea culpa failed to appease Mr Ford's critics, who stepped up calls for his resignation, with one former ally on the council saying his apology was not accepted.
Ms Wynne, the Ontario Premier, said she would now consider legislation giving Toronto "new tools" to deal with the situation, but only with the unanimous support of opposition parties, and if Toronto's city council asked for help.
"The things that we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing," Ms Wynne said, while stressing it was up to the municipal and not the provincial government to address the issue.