T.O. councillor skeptical of Layton story

Canada’s NDP leader Jack Layton answers reporters’ questions after a campaign rally in Winnipeg,...

Canada’s NDP leader Jack Layton answers reporters’ questions after a campaign rally in Winnipeg, Manitoba April 27, 2011. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election on May 2. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade

Jenny Yuen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

TORONTO – The Velvet Touch Massage parlour — where NDP Leader Jack Layton was found during a 1996 police visit — was suspected to be a bawdy house since it opened, Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti alleged.

The massage parlour in the city's Chinatown neighbourhood, which ceased operations down shortly after the police came calling, opened in 1994 and was among 26 suspected bawdy houses Toronto Police cracked down on with more than 300 charges.

Layton has denied any wrongdoing and said he did not know it was a suspected bawdy house.

Despite the Velvet Touch being a "pretty active illicit" operation, no one at Toronto City Hall received any complaints about it, Mammoliti said.

"I've asked recently if anyone at City Hall had complained in 1996 and there were no complaints that came out of councillors, but police had their eye on it, and at the end of the day, shut it down," Mammoliti said.

"I can pretty much guarantee wherever there's a rub-and-tug, it's run by organized crime, and drugs are always a part of the equation. That's just a reality of the business."

As for his thoughts on Layton being caught in the room with an attractive 5-foot-10 Asian woman, he said he doesn't buy that the NDP leader didn't know it was a place where he could get sexual services.

"He's claiming he got a legitimate massage, but the issue here is it's clear it was a rub-and-tug and most people in society would know that when they go in. I'd be very surprised that a very smart politician would not have known ... and Jack was very smart."

At the time, police were targeting massage parlours using underage girls from Thailand.

On Twitter, there was mixed reaction, especially from women.

"I'm surprised by politicians' tweets saying Layton visit to alleged bawdyhouse is no big deal; respect 4 women is overlooked by the tweets," wrote lawyer Cyndee Law.

But Kimberly Hussey called the allegations an attack on Layton.

"All the women I know will be voting for him. He was getting a massage by RMT (registered massage therapist)," she said.

Mammoliti hopes now that this story is widely publicized, the federal government will begin to take shutting down body-rub parlours more aggressively.

"Maybe now, we can start talking about what we're going to do with 3,000 illicit massage parlours that are scattered around the city today and how to clean it up." he said.

jenny.yuen@sunmedia.ca


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