Rob Ford’s Rehab Stint a “Circus,” Sources Claim

By Paul Gaita 07/10/14

Though he was contrite during his return press conference, is Rob Ford truly on the path to sobriety?

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A story in the Toronto Star concerning Mayor Rob Ford’s time in drug rehab has raised a firestorm of controversy over his alleged behavior while receiving treatment, as well as the ethics behind the newspaper’s decision to publish the story.

Ford spent two months at GreeneStone, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Muskoka, Ontario before returning to City Hall in late June. Ford was quoted as saying that the staff at GreeneStone “saved [his] life” and offered apologies to the people of Toronto for his actions, which ran the gamut of public intoxication, drug and alcohol use, and other humiliating incidents that made international headlines.

But a report in Toronto Star quoted a variety of anonymous sources associated with GreeneStone which alleged that the mayor had “brought his circus with him” by behaving in a belligerent and abusive manner towards fellow residents and facility staff during his 60-day stint, which eventually required his removal from group therapy sessions.

The Star report quoted three sources who claimed to have knowledge of Ford’s actions during his time at GreeneStone, including a fellow patient and a staffer. The sources, who asked that their names not be published in the report due to the facility’s confidentiality agreement, stated that Ford was often verbally and even physically abusive to other patients during his stay there. “Ford broke things, got into fights with other residents,” said one source. “[He] stopped people from sharing their stories, which is key to a successful rehab experience. Other residents felt intimidated.”

Ford was reportedly removed from his therapy group after 30 days and was given one-on-one sessions with a counselor. Shawn Leon, president and part owner of GreeneStone, stated in a response via e-mail to the Star that he was unable to comment on the allegations due to the confidentiality agreement. Ford himself did not respond to detailed correspondence requesting comment.

The story has also generated debate among readers and journalists alike as to whether the Star overstepped acceptable boundaries in news reportage. Many opposed the decision, stating that Ford was on leave from his mayoral duties during his stay in rehab, while others noted that Ford granting interviews to newspapers while receiving treatment made the story fair game.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.