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- 10/31/17--17:30: _Are Canada’s grocer...
- 10/31/17--13:15: _Toronto actress sue...
- 11/01/17--03:36: _Torstar focusing on...
- 11/01/17--03:00: _A Star story and a ...
- 11/01/17--03:20: _At least two people...
- 11/01/17--03:00: _Toronto region beco...
- 11/01/17--04:12: _Officials seek moti...
- 11/01/17--08:59: _Pakistani bride ina...
- 11/01/17--10:24: _Trading of Hudson’s...
- 11/01/17--08:57: _Former Brampton tea...
- 11/01/17--10:20: _Ten years after he ...
- 11/01/17--09:48: _Donald Trump made 1...
- 11/01/17--07:35: _Six women accuse fi...
- 11/01/17--08:23: _Ontario colleges, u...
- 11/01/17--11:59: _Laura Babcock had i...
- 11/01/17--12:27: _Family of Toronto m...
- 11/01/17--14:06: _Province urged to a...
- 11/01/17--13:22: _Islamic school find...
- 11/01/17--13:38: _MPP wants to ban no...
- 11/01/17--14:25: _Toronto police dail...
- 10/31/17--17:30: Are Canada’s grocers fixing bread prices?
- 11/01/17--03:00: Toronto region becoming more divided along income lines
- 11/01/17--10:24: Trading of Hudson’s Bay shares halted on Toronto Stock Exchange
- 11/01/17--11:59: Laura Babcock had intense fear of death since childhood, court hears
- 11/01/17--14:06: Province urged to act on unlicensed group homes
- 11/01/17--13:22: Islamic school finds common ground with teachers’ union
- 11/01/17--13:38: MPP wants to ban non-compostable coffee pods
- 11/01/17--14:25: Toronto police daily newscast will provide ‘unfiltered’ information
Competition Bureau confirmed Tuesday it has launched a criminal investigation into price fixing
Are Canada’s grocers fixing bread prices?
The woman, identified in court documents as “Jane Doe,” is also suing the Miramax film company, The Walt Disney Company and Barbara Schneeweiss, who worked for Weinstein.
Toronto actress sues Harvey Weinstein for two alleged sexual assaults
Toronto Star publisher expects continued growth at VerticalScope.
Torstar focusing on transformation, expect continued growth at VerticalScope
Three decades ago, Deborah Williamson was a single mother of two struggling to make ends meet. Then a Star article opened a new path.
A Star story and a single mom’s relentless drive helped break cycle of poverty
OPP describe the “massive scene” as “absolute carnage and devastation.”
At least two people dead following collision, explosion on Highway 400At least two people dead following collision, explosion on Highway 400
Across the GTA, the gap between rich and poor is widening, while middle-income areas are disappearing, United Way analysis of census data shows.
Toronto region becoming more divided along income linesToronto region becoming more divided along income linesToronto region becoming more divided along income lines
An official identified the attacker as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old who came to the U.S. legally in 2010. Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio. He had also driven for Uber.
Officials seek motive after ‘cowardly act of terror’ leaves 8 dead in New YorkOfficials seek motive after ‘cowardly act of terror’ leaves 8 dead in New York
MULTAN, PAKISTAN—Pakistani police arrested a newly married woman on murder charges after she allegedly poisoned her husband’s milk and it inadvertently killed 17 other people in a remote village, a senior police officer said Wednesday.
District police chief Sohail Habib Tajak said a judge allowed the police to question the woman, 21-year-old Aasia Bibi, for two weeks to determine whether it was the woman’s decision or her boyfriend had incited her to kill her husband by poisoning.
“This incident took place last week and our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us,” Tajak told The Associated Press.
He said Bibi was married against her will in September in a village near the town of Ali Pur, 100 kilometres south of Multan, a city in the eastern Punjab province.
Tajak said Bibi was not happy with her husband and wanted to return to her parents’ home.
She apparently obtained a poisonous substance from her boyfriend, Shahid Lashari, last week and mixed it in milk for her husband, who refused to drink it, Tajak also said.
The woman’s mother-in-law later inadvertently used the tainted milk to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 members of her extended family, who fell unconscious and were hospitalized.
Seventeen people died and 10 are still being treated in hospital, he said.
Bibi and Lashari appeared before a judge in the city of Muzaffargarh on Tuesday, where she told reporters that she was angered over her parents’ decision to marry her to a man against her will. They did not have lawyers.
“I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage but my parents rejected all of my pleas and they married me to a relative,” she said.
She said her love affair with her boyfriend continued after she got married.
Bibi said she had warned her parents that she was capable of going to any length to get out of the marriage, but they refused to allow her to get a divorce.
She said Lashari gave her a poisonous substance, which she used to try to kill her husband. She expressed remorse over the deaths, saying her target was only her husband.
Tajak said police were trying to trace and arrest all those who were aware of the plot. He said Lashari confessed to supplying the poisonous substance.
Faisal Chingwani, a top human rights activist in the city of Multan, said Bibi apparently committed the crime because she was mentally stressed about the forced marriage.
Many parents in Pakistan arrange marriages for their daughters against their will.
Also Wednesday, in the eastern city of Lahore, a brother shot and killed his sister who had recently wedded a man of her choice without consent from her family in the latest case of so-called honour killings.
Police officer Shaikh Hammad said Mahwish Arif, 25, was fatally shot by her younger brother Samar Ali. The brother fired three bullets as Arif came to visit her parental home, months after the marriage, in the suburban area of Satu Katla.
Hammad said Ali fled the scene after killing his sister. A police search was under way.
Nearly 1,000 Pakistani women are killed by close relatives each year in honour killings.
Pakistani bride inadvertently kills 17 in alleged plot to kill husband in arranged marriage
Trading of Hudson’s Bay Co. shares has been temporarily suspended on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The halt follows a tumultuous couple of months for the retailer.
In September, an activist investor in Hudson’s Bay threatened to seek the removal of company directors unless it unlocked the substantial value in its real estate holdings.
Last month, the company sold off its storied Lord & Taylor property in the heart of New York City.
As part of the $1.6 billion deal, Hudson’s Bay will lease out office space in its other locations, including floors of its downtown Toronto and Vancouver stores.
Earlier in the week, the retailer said it may sell its downtown Vancouver property.
Trading of Hudson’s Bay shares halted on Toronto Stock Exchange
A former Brampton middle school teacher accused of making derogatory, abusive and sexual comments toward students will appear before an Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) disciplinary panel later this month.
Among the allegations against Julie Gionest, who taught French at Lougheed Middle School in Brampton, are that she referred to a Muslim student as “bomber,” a white student as “cracker,” and a black student as a “thief.”
None of the allegations, which reportedly occurred during the 2011-12 school year, have been proven.
Gionest, who is no longer with the Peel District School Board, hasn’t responded to a request for comment. She will appear before the panel on Nov. 22.
Peel District School Board spokesperson Kayla Tishcoff said she couldn’t say when Gionest worked as a teacher or when her employment ended as it is protected under the Municipal Freedom of Information Act.
Gionest is accused of failing to maintain the standards of the teaching profession, abusing “a student or students verbally,” and abusing “a student or students psychologically or emotionally,” among other allegations set out in the notice of hearing.
It’s also alleged she “committed acts that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”
Gionest is accused of saying to a female Muslim student on Dec. 1, 2011, after being hit by a ball in the gym, words to the effect of “Is this what your religion teaches you?”
Gionest is also accused of making several comments of a “sexual nature” to students and using vulgar language in front of them. There have also been alleged incidents in which “subjects of a sexual nature” were discussed in class with students, according to OCT documents, including “anal sex” and pornographic websites.
Gionest’s disciplinary hearing is open to the public. Her teaching certificate has been suspended due to “nonpayment of fees,” said the OCT website.
Former Brampton teacher accused of calling Muslim student ‘bomber,’ discussing porn in class
In a rare move, a Toronto man will face a third trial for the same murder.
“The Crown is intending to proceed with this prosecution,” Crown attorney Julie Battersby told a Superior Court judge Wednesday, in the case of Warren Nigel Abbey, who was sitting in the prisoner's box.
Abbey is accused of first-degree murder in the execution-style shooting death of Simeon Peter, 19, in Scarborough in 2004. His lawyer declined to comment to the Star on Wednesday.
Abbey was acquitted at his first trial in 2007, but after the Crown appealed, he was tried a second time in 2011, at which point he was found guilty. Then Abbey appealed, and last summer, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered that he should face a new trial.
The decision to proceed to a third trial was ultimately at the discretion of the Crown, which could have also chosen to withdraw the charge. The new trial may prove to be an uphill battle for prosecutors, who find themselves without a key part of their evidence against Abbey following the Court of Appeal ruling in August.
The Crown had alleged at Abbey's second trial that he was an associate of the Malvern Crew gang who shot and killed Peter, mistakenly believing he was a member of the rival Galloway Boys, and that Abbey had a teardrop tattooed under his right eye about four months later.
Testifying for the Crown, sociologist Mark Totten said a teardrop tattoo meant one of three things: the individual had lost a loved one or fellow gang member, had spent time in prison or had killed a rival gang member.
But Ontario's top court came down hard on Totten in their ruling overturning Abbey's conviction. After the defence raised “fresh evidence” — issues surrounding Totten's research and testimony — the court found Totten's testimony contained “inaccuracies” and even “falsehoods.”
A three-judge panel found his evidence “unreliable,” that he “misrepresented” the sample size of gang members in some of his studies, and that statistics he provided on the stand about gang members with teardrop tattoos are nowhere to be found in his studies.
“I have concluded that the fresh evidence shows Totten's opinion evidence on the meaning of a teardrop tattoo to be too unreliable to be heard by a jury. If the trial judge had known about the fresh evidence he would have ruled Totten's evidence inadmissible,” Court of Appeal Justice John Laskin wrote for the panel.
“And the absence of Totten's evidence would reasonably be expected to have affected the jury's verdict. I would admit the fresh evidence, allow Abbey's appeal, overturn his conviction and order a new trial.”
Indeed, at Abbey's first trial, the Crown was barred by the judge from having Totten give evidence, and the jury ended up acquitting Abbey.
There is other Crown evidence, but Laskin noted in his ruling that the rest of the Crown's case “was not overly strong,” and included poor eyewitness testimony and “problematic” evidence from three Malvern Crew members whose testimony implicated Abbey. Two of them testified in exchange for being granted immunity on a number of serious offences, while the third member refused to testify at the second trial.
It was ironic that the Court of Appeal ordered a third trial due to Totten's evidence, given the fact that it was the Court of Appeal — albeit a different panel of judges — that allowed the Crown's appeal and ordered a second trial in 2009, finding that Totten should have been allowed to give evidence on teardrop tattoos. (The issues about Totten's evidence that were before the top court this year were not before it in 2009.)
Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel in 2009, Justice David Doherty said that viewed cumulatively, Totten's evidence along with the evidence of Malvern Crew members about the meaning of teardrop tattoos “could reasonably present a compelling picture for the Crown.”
“I do not suggest that a jury would necessarily take that view of the excluded evidence,” he wrote. “I say only that a reasonable jury could take that view. If it did, the verdict could very well be different.”
And it was. Abbey was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury at his second trial in 2011, and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.
A date for his third trial will be set Dec. 5.
Ten years after he was acquitted, this Toronto man faces a third trial for the same murderTen years after he was acquitted, this Toronto man faces a third trial for the same murder
WASHINGTON—The more comfortable Donald Trump gets, the more dishonest he gets. And no television network makes him more comfortable than Fox.
A week after Trump made 11 false claims in a softball interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo, the U.S. president went back on the channel for a softball interview with Lou Dobbs— and made 11 more false claims.
He made 16 more over the course of last week for a total of 27. That is less than half of the record high he set the previous week, with 57, but still a whole lot. All together, Trump made 803 false claims over his first 283 days in office — an average of 2.8 false claims per day.
Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.
We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.
Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.
Last updated: Nov. 1, 2017
Donald Trump made 11 false claims in that Fox interview with Lou Dobbs
Natasha Henstridge was watching a movie on Brett Ratner’s couch when she fell asleep. She was a 19-year-old fashion model; he was an up-and-coming music video director in his early 20s. They had been hanging out in front of the TV with friends at his New York apartment.
But when Henstridge woke up, the others had left. She was alone with Ratner. She got up to leave, Henstridge said, but he blocked the doorway with his bodsy and wouldn’t budge. He began touching himself, she said, then forced her to perform oral sex.
“He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” she said. “At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.”
Ratner, through his attorney Martin Singer, disputed her account.
Since that incident in the early 1990s, Henstridge has found success as an actress — starring in the films Species and The Whole Nine Yards. But she said she has carried the memory of the run-in with her, and watched from afar as Ratner became one of Hollywood’s most powerful players — directing, producing or financing dozens of today’s biggest box-office hits, including Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Revenant and Horrible Bosses.
As hundreds of women have come forward in recent weeks with allegations of sexual misconduct at the hands of producer Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback and numerous other powerful men, Henstridge — born in Newfoundland and raised in Fort McMurray, Alta. — decided she would no longer remain silent.
In interviews with the Los Angeles Times, Henstridge and five other women accused Ratner of a range of sexual harassment and misconduct that allegedly took place in private homes, on movie sets or at industry events.
As is often the case, none of the women reported the allegations to the police.
On Ratner’s behalf, Singer “categorically” disputed their accounts.
“I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment,” Singer said in a 10-page letter to The Los Angeles Times. “Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”
Olivia Munn said that while visiting the set of the 2004 Ratner-directed After the Sunset when she was still an aspiring actress, he masturbated in front of her in his trailer when she went to deliver a meal. Munn wrote about the incident in her 2010 collection of essays without naming Ratner. On a television show a year later, Ratner identified himself as the director, and claimed that he had “banged” her, something he later said was not true. The same year her book was published, Munn ran into Ratner at a party thrown by Creative Artists Agency and he boasted of ejaculating on magazine covers featuring her image, she told The Times.
She said that persistent false rumours that they had been intimate have infuriated her, prompting her to talk to The Times in support of other women who are “brave enough to speak up.”
“I’ve made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner,” Munn said.
“It feels as if I keep going up against the same bully at school who just won’t quit,” she said. “You just hope that enough people believe the truth and for enough time to pass so that you can’t be connected to him anymore.”
Ratner “vehemently disputes” Munn’s allegations, Singer said.
A playboy persona
Ratner, 48, has long flaunted his playboy persona, bragging publicly about his sexual prowess. He has been romantically linked to the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Mariah Carey. In December, Tina Fey, speaking at the Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, cracked: “Brett Ratner is here. In his defence, he thought this was a thing where you could eat breakfast off of 100 women.”
For years, he palled around with Robert Evans, the slick-haired former production chief at Paramount Pictures who was later convicted of trafficking cocaine, and Toback, who, as The Times reported last month, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 300 women. In a January interview with Variety, Ratner said Evans, Toback and Roman Polanski, who was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor in 1977, were among his “closest friends.”
After Ratner quipped that “rehearsal is for fags” while appearing at a 2011 screening of his film Tower Heist, he was widely criticized. The misstep cost him a plum gig: He quickly resigned from producing the 2012 Academy Awards telecast and issued an apology, calling it a “dumb way of expressing myself.”
In interviews, Ratner has tried to smooth out the rough edges of his bad-boy image, especially more recently, as he has expanded his business ventures. In 2012, Ratner co-founded production company RatPac Entertainment. A year later, RatPac partnered with now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s Dune Entertainment to create the investment vehicle RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which inked a co-financing deal with Warner Bros. worth about $450 million. Among Ratner’s executive producing credits via those companies are Jersey Boys and Black Mass.
The filmmaker often has told reporters that he doesn’t use drugs or drink alcohol. Sometimes, in enumerating his lack of vices, Ratner also points out his love of beautiful women, saying, for example, in a 2008 Jewish Journal story: “I’m not into dark stuff. I’m just a nice Jewish kid . . . who loves movies and pretty girls.”
Actress Jaime Ray Newman said Ratner put it more bluntly to her, explaining in vulgar terms that he needed sex — not alcohol or drugs.
Newman said she encountered Ratner in 2005 when they were both in first class on an Air Canada flight. The filmmaker swapped seats with his assistant before departure so he could be next to her, she said. Newman, who was on her way to shoot her first major acting role on the TV show Supernatural, was excited to talk with a “famous director” about to helm X-Men: The Last Stand, she said.
Within five minutes of the plane taking off, she said, Ratner began loudly describing sex acts he wanted to perform on her in explicit detail. He also showed her nude photos of his then-girlfriend, said Newman, 39, who stars on Netflix’s forthcoming The Punisher.
“He was graphically describing giving me oral sex and how he was addicted to it,” she said.
Newman said she was so shaken by the encounter that she immediately told a handful of people about it. Both her mother and a friend confirmed to The Times that the actress shared details shortly after the flight.
Ratner, through his attorney, denied that the incident occurred, referring to it as a “ridiculous claim.”
Actress Katharine Towne also described an aggressive come-on by Ratner that left her so uncomfortable that she said she still vividly remembers the incident years later. She said she met the director in L.A. around 2005 at a party in a movie star’s home, where he made unwanted advances. Ratner, she said, was persistent, “making it evident that he had one motive” — to sleep with her.
“He started to come on to me in a way that was so extreme,” said Towne, 39, whose credits include the film What Lies Beneath. The actress, who is the daughter of Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne, excused herself. Ratner followed her into a bathroom.
“I think it’s pretty aggressive to go in the bathroom with someone you don’t know and close the door,” Towne said.
She said she was nervous, and tried to make a joke about her weight: “I don’t even know what you want with me. I’m kind of chubby right now.” He was undeterred. “I like ’em chubby sometimes,” she said Ratner replied. Towne gave Ratner her number, hoping to placate him. Ratner’s assistant called her for the next six months, unsuccessfully trying to arrange a dinner for her and the filmmaker, she said.
Ratner’s attorney Singer called Towne’s account “absurd.” “Even if hypothetically this incident occurred exactly as claimed, how is flirting at a party, complimenting a woman on her appearance, and calling her to ask her for a date wrongful conduct?” Singer said.
Although some have questioned his conduct, Ratner has defenders in the industry including five former assistants who have worked closely with him throughout the years. David Steiman, Hopi Dobuler, Drew Sherman, Brett Gursky and Izak Rappaport all said that they did not witness him misbehave and praised him as a boss and mentor.
Steiman, who was Ratner’s assistant from 1999 to 2004, said he never saw him mistreat women, and would be “shocked” if such conduct occurred. Steiman noted that Ratner dated actress Rebecca Gayheart and tennis star Serena Williams during his time working for the filmmaker.
Said Dobuler, a longtime former assistant to Ratner: “I think he’s great . . . He’s a family guy.”
Over the years, Ratner has received several honours for his philanthropic and humanitarian endeavours. On Sunday, the Jewish National Fund presented Ratner with its annual Tree of Life Award at a gala in Hollywood where the guests included film producer Avi Lerner, United Talent Agency co-founder Jim Berkus and Singer.
Gal Gadot, the Israeli star of Wonder Woman, had been slated to give the award to Ratner, but as The Times was reporting on his alleged sexual misbehaviour last week, the actress’ publicist announced she would not appear at the event because of a scheduling conflict.
Instead, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who has known Ratner for years, presented him the award, saying: “He’s gone on to be this real power in this town. He’s a big character. He’s a big personality. But you know what I love about Brett, he wants that for everybody else too.”
Munn’s Ratner run-ins
New to Los Angeles and pursuing an acting career, Munn said she was thrilled when a friend invited her to the set of After the Sunset. “I was so excited, because I mean, that’s why you come out to California and Hollywood,” recalled the actress, 37, whose credits now include HBO’s The Newsroom and the movies Magic Mike and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Not long after Munn arrived on the Santa Monica set in 2004, she said, she was asked to drop some food off in Ratner’s trailer as a favour. She said she was assured that the director would not be there.
Munn entered Ratner’s trailer and quickly placed the food on a table. She said she was startled to find him inside. She tried to make a quick exit, but Ratner implored her not to leave.
“He walked out . . . with his belly sticking out, no pants on, shrimp cocktail in one hand and he was furiously masturbating in the other,” Munn said. “And before I literally could even figure out where to escape or where to look, he ejaculated.”
Munn said she let out a “startled scream” and raced out of the trailer. She said she immediately told the man who had asked her to deliver the food. His reaction? “It wasn’t a shock. It wasn’t surprise,” Munn recalled. “It was just, ‘Ugh, sorry about that.’”
Munn said she left the set and called her sister, Sara Potts, who urged her to speak with a lawyer. Potts confirmed Munn’s account.
The attorney dissuaded her from going up against a powerful director as a fledgling actress, so she did nothing.
“That did leave an impact on me,” Munn said, reflecting on the conversation. “How broken do women have to be before people listen?”
She wrote about the incident in her book, Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek— but stripped out names and details. During a 2011 appearance on Attack of the Show, a television program Munn previously co-hosted, Ratner identified himself as the unnamed director, but denied masturbating in front of her. “I used to date Olivia Munn, I will be honest with everybody here,” he said. “When she was ‘Lisa.’ That was the problem. She wasn’t Asian back then.”
“I banged her a few times . . . but I forgot her,” he said.
Days later, he went on the Howard Stern show and admitted he never slept with Munn and expressed contrition for making her look like “a whore.”
“I felt horrible,” he told the Sirius XM Radio host. “I said I banged her three times, which wasn’t true.”
In response to questions from The Times, Singer said that Munn and Ratner had indeed had “an intimate relationship.” Munn described that as “a complete lie.”
“I shouldn’t have to be completely broken, battered, and devalued in order to prove that he crossed a line,” she said.
Munn said she continued to run into Ratner at a handful of Hollywood events.
In 2010, after recently appearing on the cover of a magazine, she attended a CAA-hosted party where, she said, Ratner asked her, “Why do you hate me?” She said she told him: “It’s more of a dislike.”
Ratner grew angry, she said, and responded: “Why? I bought 10 of your magazines and came over all of them.”
Singer said Ratner “has no recollection of making such a statement.”
Immediately after the run-in, Munn told her friend Cara McConnell, whom she had brought to the party, about what transpired.
“She came up to me right afterwards,” McConnell said. “She (said) ‘I can’t believe this happened to me. I can’t believe he did that.’”
An actor who overheard the conversation confirmed Munn’s account. A third partygoer confirmed being told immediately about the “vulgar” encounter from someone who overheard it directly.
The claimed incident with Munn is not the only one to allegedly occur on set of a Ratner-helmed film.
Four people who were involved in the production of Ratner’s Rush Hour 2 in Las Vegas in 2001 described a sexually charged atmosphere — one in which the director was pursuing women. The PG-13 film includes several scenes featuring women in bikinis and lingerie, and the set, according to these people, was teeming with beautiful young women.
Eri Sasaki, then a 21-year-old part-time model and aspiring singer, said her role as an extra required her to wear a skimpy outfit that exposed her midriff. While waiting for filming to begin one day, Ratner approached her, ran his index finger down her bare stomach and asked if she wanted to go into a bathroom with him. When she said no, she recalled Ratner saying, “Don’t you want to be famous?”
A day or two later, Ratner again asked her to go into the bathroom with him, and again asked if she wanted to be a movie star. He offered to give her a line of dialogue in the film. Sasaki said no.
Singer said Ratner has no recollection of the alleged incident.
Jorina King also worked as a background actress on the film.
On the first day of shooting, King said, Ratner plucked her from a crowd of female extras and said he later wanted to discuss giving her a speaking part.
The next day, he asked her to come to his trailer and told her he needed to see her breasts, she said. King said she rejected his request and hid in a restroom. “I figured if I could stay out of his eyesight, if I could stay away from him, he will forget about me and he will choose someone else, and that is exactly what happened,” King said, adding that she feared him — and losing the work.
Kent Richards, who was a production assistant on the set of Rush Hour 2, said that Sasaki told him, during the production, about her experience with Ratner. He also said he recalled a conversation in which King expressed being uncomfortable on set, and referenced Ratner. Richards also said two or three other background actresses complained to him, alleging that Ratner asked them to show him their breasts or to touch his penis. Singer disputed Richards’ account, calling it a “second-hand story about unnamed individuals.”
David Anthony, whose company at the time, Background Players, handled extras casting for the film’s shoot in L.A. and Las Vegas, said that three background actresses who worked on the project told him that Ratner had asked them out on “dates.”
“In Brett’s defence, I am sure he is not the only heterosexual man hitting on women on that set,” he said.
King, who later founded the background casting agency Wild Streak Talent, said that she’d dealt with brusque men on movie sets, but nothing like Ratner.
“He feels entitled, that this is what he wants, this is how it is going to be, and this feels like normal business to him,” she said.
Singer called King’s claims “absurd” and “nonsensical.” “The movie was obviously already cast and shooting, so the notion that there would be a discussion of getting her a speaking role in the middle of a movie shoot is ridiculous,” Singer said.
He provided a statement by James M. Freitag, an assistant director on the set, who said that he received no such complaints during Rush Hour 2 filming.
“Any complaints of any kind including sexual harassment would be immediately directed to my attention,” Freitag said. “There were no complaints reported to me whatsoever.”
Seeing Ratner again
Since their encounter in New York in the 1990s, Henstridge, 43, has crossed paths with Ratner numerous times in Hollywood, including once during the last 10 years at a party with her friend Amy Del Rio.
“She saw someone in the crowd and her body language changed,” said Del Rio, an entertainment lawyer. “I asked her if she was OK and she said ‘no.’ Then I saw she was looking at Brett Ratner. I asked if she knew him. She said, ‘He’s not a good guy. I knew him back in the day in New York.’ She was really weird, like, ‘I wanna get out of here.’”
Henstridge detailed the alleged encounter with Ratner to Del Rio only within the last month. But three other people — a former boyfriend, a neighbour and a close friend — confirmed to The Times that Henstridge told them about the incident over a roughly 10-year period beginning in the mid-1990s.
Although he acknowledged spending time with her, Ratner disputed Henstridge’s claims. Singer accused the actress of being “upset after learning my client had a girlfriend who he would not leave” for her.
Henstridge told The Times that she was not interested in dating Ratner and, before that night, had never been alone with him.
Henstridge’s neighbour Lilith Berdischewsky said that the actress told her about the incident with Ratner in the mid-2000s. “I remember when she was going to some audition and she says, ‘I don’t know whether I should go or not, but (Ratner) probably is not going to be there.’ And she came back and she was shaking,” Berdischewsky recalled.
Indeed, Henstridge, who recently appeared on the television shows Medinah and Beauty & the Beast, went to an audition for the TV drama Prison Break, which Ratner executive produced, knowing he might be in the room.
“And he was,” said the actress, who has two sons, ages 16 and 19. “I had two young kids and had to go to work and make a living. And he just acted like we were old friends from back in the day in New York, saying, ‘I haven’t seen you in years.’ Auditioning is already bad enough. But trying to focus on the work, I just felt sick.”
She didn’t get the part.
Six women accuse filmmaker Brett Ratner of sexual harassment or misconduct
Talks are resuming between Ontario colleges and the union representing 12,000 striking faculty, after pressure from students, the post-secondary minister and even the premier, to get a deal.
A provincially appointed mediator asked the parties to return to the bargaining table on Thursday, Nov. 2.
The strike, now in its third week, has affected more than 300,000 students across the province. Particularly vulnerable are those in apprenticeships and other programs who must earn in-class hours before they can write certification exams.
“This strike has gone on for too long,” said Sonia Del Missier, who heads the colleges bargaining team. “We can reach a settlement quickly and have classes start again early next week . . . . We will focus our efforts at the table and work very hard to reach a deal that ends the strike.”
On Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she would not rule out back-to-work legislation, but said both she and Minister Deb Matthews agreed the two sides should be able to negotiate a deal.
Wynne said she and Matthews had “an expectation” that both sides would find a way to get back to the table.
Matthews has said she reached out to both the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union personally to urge them to talk.
The colleges and unions are about $250 million apart on wages and staffing demands. As a response to the growth in contract positions, the union is demanding that 50 per cent of jobs be full-time.
By head-count, full-time faculty account for about a third of all teachers. By teaching hours, they represent about half.
Ontario colleges, union head back to bargaining table after strike hits third week
It took an Ontario prosecutor 10 minutes to read through a lifetime of pain for Laura Babcock.
Jill Cameron walked the jury in the murder trial through the young woman’s mental health records, which detailed more than a dozen visits to specialists in the year leading up to her disappearance in the summer of 2012.
“She feels no one loves or cares about her,” reads a note from a psychiatrist at Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre on April 29, 2012.
She banged her head against the wall to relieve her “extreme anxiety,” and she lived with an overwhelming fear of death since childhood, read another.
Babcock’s mother, Linda, closed her eyes and bowed her head as she sat in the packed courtroom on Wednesday. Her father, Clayton, rubbed his temples and clenched his jaw.
The Crown contends Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30 of Oakville, Ont., killed Babcock and burned her body in a large incinerator because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.
They believe she was killed on July 3 or 4, 2012. Her body has not been found. Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty.
Millard, who is representing himself, has said he didn’t care much about his girlfriend at the time or about her feud with Babcock. Court has heard there was bad blood between the two women.
Babcock’s mental health records came as an admission in court agreed upon by the prosecution and both accused.
“We had a stack of documents from Ms. Babcock’s various mental health treatments at three different hospitals that she had attended as an outpatient and on one occasion as an inpatient,” Justice Michael Code told the jury.
They boiled her records down to eight pages that only detail the time from August 2011 to April 2012.
Babcock lived through extreme anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, the records state. She purged herself. She cried all the time, and she obsessed over death.
“Her major concern is death and what would happen after she dies,” reads a note from a nurse at William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., on Aug. 18, 2011.
The next day, Babcock told a social worker at the same hospital she has had negative thoughts since she was five years old.
“Does not want to die, but likes to see blood. Some days she believes anything is doable,” reads one note from a doctor at William Osler on Sept. 15, 2011.
She would blame her parents for not understanding her. Then she’d take it back.
On Jan. 20 2012, a note from her file at a Toronto mental health hospital reads: “Long-standing history of worthlessness and emptiness.”
She told a nurse on March 14, 2012 that she sometimes wished to die, but on several other occasions she told hospital staff she did not contemplate suicide.
Babcock told one psychiatrist she felt misunderstood. She accused her parents of not believing her most recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
“She would sometimes state that it’s not until she’s dead that people would realize she had an illness,” said a note from a psychiatrist on April 29, 2012.
At that, Babcock’s mother breathed deeply, shaking her head.
Laura Babcock had intense fear of death since childhood, court hears
The family of a Toronto man who was declared brain dead after suffering an asthma attack has obtained a temporary injunction to keep him on life support while it fights to have his death certificate revoked on religious grounds.
Shalom Ouanounou’s father, who is also his substitute decision-maker, filed an application with the court arguing that the 25-year-old is not dead under the laws of Orthodox Judaism, the faith he practises.
The injunction granted Wednesday means Ouaounou will be kept on a ventilator and feeding tube as the family challenges the existing medical guidelines that lay out when a person is considered brain dead, the family’s lawyer said after a hearing in a Toronto court.
Hugh Scher said the decision comes as a great relief to the family. “They were going to pull the plug tomorrow,” he said.
The crux of the case is whether the Canadian guidelines on brain death should make accommodations for those whose religion “precludes and rejects the idea, the notion of brain death,” Scher said.
Similar accommodations are built into the legal definition of death in some parts of the U.S., including New York State and New Jersey, he said.
The established Canadian guidelines define death as the irreversible cessation of brain function and of the capacity to breathe, while Orthodox Judaism considers death to be complete cardiac and respiratory failure, according to the family’s application.
The application argues that disregarding those beliefs would represent a serious assault on Ouanounou’s human dignity and religious liberty. “Shalom would suffer the ultimate irreparable harm in the event that this application is not granted,” the document says.
“He would be declared dead in a manner contrary to his religious values and would be deprived of accommodation of his most fundamental constitutional and human rights when he is most dependent on them.”
Ouanounou, 25, had an asthma attack at home on Sept. 27 and was taken by ambulance to Humber River Hospital, where he was placed on a respirator, the document says.
Three days later, doctors determined that he met the standards for death by neurological criteria, better known as brain death, it says. A death certificate was issued shortly afterward.
Ouanounou’s family is not asking that he be kept on life support indefinitely and is aware that he could meet his religion’s definition of death before the case is resolved, Scher said.
Nonetheless, the lawyer said, “both the family and the community are committed to having this question addressed because it does have broader implications.”
The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Family of Toronto man declared brain dead says finding goes against his religion
Unlicensed group homes put the safety of already vulnerable residents at risk and the province needs to act, critics said Wednesday amid news one was shut down after a blaze broke out.
“It’s a miracle no one was hurt, because Toronto Fire Services said that the unlicensed home failed numerous fire code inspections,” said NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West).
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it is usually left to municipalities or fire departments “to bring some regulation to these places — the government needs to step up” and build more supportive housing as well as provide “mental health and addictions supports to people who need it.
“So all of these things then leave people desperate for a place to live with the supports they need to be able to function … after 14 years (of Liberal governments) we still have this form of housing, that is really not safe and in many ways a bit exploitative of the people who live there.”
At the legislature, Premier Kathleen Wynne called the situation “a tragedy that needs to be addressed.”
“We will certainly look into the specifics of this situation,” she said. “The reality is that there are people who are living — in situations … where the regulation of their living situation is not always as clear as it should be. This is something that we are tackling. It’s something that we know needs more work, and we will continue to work with the municipality to make sure that the proper rules and the supports are in place.”
The Scarborough home, at 108 Fawcett Trail, was among a group of unlicensed facilities investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police last year, which found “deplorable” and unsafe living conditions. However, the decision was made to keep the homes open because the residents had nowhere else to go.
Under the Long-Term Homes Care Act, nursing home care cannot be provided in a residential home to two or more people without a licence.
However, the OPP probe found that patients were being discharged from hospital to such unlicensed homes because they were the only option for some, typically the elderly or those suffering mental health issues.
The Fawcett Trail home had been ordered, in prior inspections, to boost fire safety systems and Toronto’s deputy fire chief said more charges are to be laid.
Six people who live at the home, who are elderly or suffering from mental health issues, were able to flee the home during the fire and were not injured, reports the Star’s Betsy Powell.
The home is part of a chain and the operator told the Star the fire was caused not by safety issues but because a resident stuffed newspapers into a heating vent.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the issue involves a number of ministries as well as municipalities and “it’s a very serious problem and I know that the various ministries involved will be getting together to look at it in more detail as to how to approach it.”
Province urged to act on unlicensed group homes
After a turbulent start to their relationship, the Islamic Foundation of Toronto School and the union representing its elementary school teachers have negotiated a contract that will be put to members this week.
The Islamic Foundation of Toronto School (IFS), based in east Toronto, was one of the first private Islamic schools in the GTA to unionize this year. The school issued a news release over the weekend announcing the “collective agreement” and thanking all parties for their “hard work, support and patience during this long and demanding process.”
The 28 unionized employees with IFS will vote on the contract on Thursday, said United Food and Commercial Workers union representative Jehan Ahamed, who said they will be “recommending the deal to their membership.”
Earlier in September, tensions between UFCW and IFS came to a head, after the IFS abruptly shut down its decades-old high school days before the term was to begin, after talks between the two parties failed.
The school insisted the closure was unrelated to the talks, and cited financial issues and low enrolment instead.
But the union called the high school closure a form of “reprisal” against recently unionized employees, and filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Board
Ahamed said the two parties initiated mediation, and after a few marathon bargaining sessions in October, they came to a tentative agreement.
“The treatment of the employees, in regard to respect, all comes down to language — and we are really happy with what we have achieved in terms of language,” he said, adding he could not give more details until after Thursday’s vote.
Previously, the union said the full-time teachers sought union representation to address issues including “a lack of respect in the workplace, time limits on vacations, poor job security, and an inadequate compensation package.”
Akbar Warsi, vice president of IFS, said he could not comment “pending ratification by employees.”
The union said it has also asked IFS to “explore and work toward the feasibility of re-opening IFS high school,” even though many of the students have moved on to other schools.
Ahamed said the outcome of these negotiations has caught the attention of Islamic schools across the GTA, many of whom are watching to see how things play out there.
He said negotiations are still underway with the management at Islamic Institute of Toronto, another Islamic school that also saw its teaching staff unionize this year.
“Coming to an agreement is a good thing for all, the students, the community, the parents and the teachers,” he said. “Everyone in the community has been impacted by the closure of the high school, and they are looking forward to see a good outcome.”
Islamic school finds common ground with teachers’ union
Ontarians have a bad habit to break when it comes to coffee — and they need some help, says Progressive Conservative MPP Norm Miller.
He’s pushing for all parties at Queens’ Park to support a law requiring every single-use coffee pods sold in Ontario to be compostable within four years so they can be tossed into the green bin as soon as the cup of joe is brewed.
The goal is to keep more of the 1.5 billion pods used annually in Canada out of garbage dumps.
“Ontario has a waste problem,” said Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka) Wednesday before presenting his private members’ bill. He cited a recent warning from the province’s environmental commissioner.
While some companies, including Loblaw, McDonald’s and Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co., sell java in compostable Keurig-style pods, the majority of pods sold in Ontario are made elsewhere and are not recyclable or compostable, Miller said.
He cited compostable pods, developed by Toronto-based Club Coffee with the University of Guelph’s bioproducts development centre, as a model for the rest of the fast-growing single-serve coffee industry.
“It’s a Canadian invention,” said Miller, downplaying any concerns his bill would involve “too much regulation” for business.
“It’s a positive regulation . . . . It simplifies things for business as well.”
The compostable pods are made from plant materials and skins from reclaimed coffee beans. They bio-degrade about five weeks.
Claudio Gemmiti of Club Coffee told a news conference that single-serve coffee pods are a fast-growing part of the market, making the key to waste reduction, on this front, a solution “without the consumer having to change their behaviour.”
Recyclable pods are “finicky” to deal with because the cap must be torn off and the coffee grounds rinsed out and the plastic cup thrown in the blue bin, Miller said.
Eliminating them and filling the market with compostable pods would enable more municipal waste systems to accept all pods, he said. The Club Coffee-made compostable PurPod100s are approved for composting in Muskoka, Orillia, Peel, Guelph and Niagara, he added.
“Municipalities are hesitant to accept compostable coffee pods into their compost systems because they are afraid that confused consumers will attempt to compost non-compostalbe coffee pods . . . contaminating the compost and driving up costs.”
Doug Burns of Muskoka Roastery said compostable pods can be part of “the next wave of sustainability.”
Miller’s bill will be debated in the Legislature on Nov. 23.
Private members’ bills are rarely passed, but, if Miller’s effort becomes law, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in North America to require compostable coffee pods.
MPP wants to ban non-compostable coffee pods
The Toronto Police Service is dabbling in the news industry, launching a short weekday newscast as part of what it calls an ongoing effort to communicate with the public and officers alike.
Starting Thursday, the force will broadcast a three-minute newscast to “talk about what we do here at the Toronto police directly and unfiltered,” according to a promotional video the service released this week. The show will “air” on YouTube and its social media networks at 10 a.m. each weekday.
Meaghan Gray, spokesperson for the Toronto police, said Wednesday that the show is a natural progression from some of the existing communication initiatives, including their website and social media accounts.
Among its objectives is to “dispel urban myth that crime is everywhere in the city every day,” the video says. That information will be drawn from the Toronto Police operations centre, which tweets out the various calls and occurrences officers respond to throughout the day.
The show will be a chance to provide information about what may have occurred crime-wise in the city overnight or the previous day, “but it’s also an opportunity for us to highlight various projects or initiatives or individuals,” Gray said.
The show will not cost any extra money, Gray said, because it’s using resources already available within the corporate communications section of Toronto police.
That includes media-relations officers who are already working to provide journalists with information about breaking crime news in the city. Those officers will be the hosts, at least in the early days of the show, she said.
Toronto police daily newscast will provide ‘unfiltered’ information