This post has been updated with social media reaction.
TORONTO — Mayor Rob Ford did something Thursday he has never done — he appeared at a city hall news conference with his wife Renata at his side.
Without introducing or referring to his wife, Ford apologized to his family for graphic comments he made in a scrum earlier in the day.
Renata, who did not speak to reporters, stood by Ford as he pleaded with the media to “please, please respect my family’s privacy.”
There was plenty of sympathy for Renata on social media following the press conference.
“Rather than ‘standing by her man,’ Renata Ford’s bowed head & humiliated face made plain that [newser] was last place in world she wanted 2 b,” tweeted Susanna Kelley.
“Renata Ford had the look of a beaten woman yesterday,” tweeted DocJeremic1. “She knows this is almost over Rob will be out soon.”
Dave Levinthal opined simply: “Silent wife presser = end is near.”
Tanya tweeted: “Renata Ford looks beaten down. Utterly defeated & humiliated by the weight of her husband’s never ending scandal.”
“Boy, I feel so bad for Renata Ford,” wrote PI. “You can tell she is scared and ashamed of her husband. Broken family, in public spotlight.”
The Funky Adjunct tweeted: “Renata Ford joins political wives standing in agony beside disgraced husbands.”
“Think your life sucks? I have two words for you: Renata Ford,” read a post by synthesised.
“Can nobody help Renata Ford and her children get out of this terrifying situation?,” wondered Alanis Walker. “There’s really nothing funny about it.”
Still, some made light of the situation.
Leanne Moffat tweeted: “If I was Renata Ford, I’d feel so uncomfortable, because she knows everyone is trying not to stare at her crotch. Poor woman.”
Suzanne posted: “The mysterious Renata Ford as she realized most of the world gave a passing thought to her vagina today.”
“Idea for SNL sketch – Huma Abedin and Renata Ford meet in a coffee shop…” suggested Robert Dick.
The mayor has long been guarded about his family and he is rarely photographed with Renata outside of an election campaign.
In his mayoral victory speech in 2010, Ford twice said he couldn’t have won “without my beautiful wife Renata.”
According to a 2008 story in The Globe and Mail, Renata was described by a neighbour as “reclusive and rarely seen out of the house.”
What we do know is that former high school mates Rob Ford and Renata Brejniak were married in 2000 at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club on Islington Ave. south of Eglinton Ave. W.
The couple has two children — Stephanie, 8, and Douglas, 5.
“We have decided to wait until they are older to explain about politics,” Renata told Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington in June.
Renata told the Sun she feels sorry for reporters and photographers who wait outside her family’s home.
“I look out the window sometimes at 6:30 a.m. and I see them. Sometimes it’s raining,” she said. “They have a job to do and I know that. Everybody has a job to do.”
Renata has stayed with her husband through the highs — she was at his side when he gave his victory speech in 2010 — and the lows.
She was with her then-fiancé Ford on Valentine’s Day in 1999 when he was pulled over by police in Florida and charged with possession of marijuana. The charge was later dropped but Ford pleaded guilty to failing to provide a breath sample.
“I had a few drinks at Valentine’s Day dinner with [Renata],” Ford told reporters in 2010 when the incident was uncovered. “It was a mistake, I shouldn’t have been driving but I owned up to my mistake.”
In March 2008, police investigated a disturbance at the Ford home and charged Ford with assault and threatening death. The Crown later withdrew the charges.
In 2011, Renata’s mother Henryka called police claiming the mayor had been drinking and was taking his children to Florida against his wife’s wishes. No charges were filed and Renata’s father Tadeusz later told reporters the 911 call was a mistake.
Calls to the Brejniaks, who live only three kilometres from the Fords, went unanswered.
© Shaw Media, 2013