Ohio Supreme Court justice says to ‘lighten up’ over widely-criticized post

Image courtesy of WCMH

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Supreme Court justice William O’Neill claimed he had been sexually intimate with 50 women over the past 50 years in an unexpected Facebook post.

O’Neill, a Democrat, says he is running for Ohio governor.

He made a post on Facebook Friday that has been widely criticized, in which he says he had relationships “with approximately 50 very attractive females.”

The post, which was later edited to remove some identifying information about two of the women, reads as thus:

“Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males. As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time. In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females. It ranged from a gorgeous blonde who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn and ended with a drop dead gorgeous red head from Cleveland.

Now can we get back to discussing legalizing marijuana and opening the state hospital network to combat the opioid crisis. I am sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago.

Peace.”

O’Neill told The Associated Press that the post grew out of frustration over Democrats’ calls to remove Al Franken from the U.S. Senate over sexual misconduct allegations. O’Neill said the misconduct story has gone too far.

“It’s a matter of parody suggesting that, as a governor candidate, I assume I am the next target of the media frenzy,” he said.

“So I figure let’s just get it out here on Front Street right here and now,” he added, referring to the street where the Supreme Court building sits.

O’Neill removed the post Friday and put up another response:

As a 15 year jurist, I like to think I speak with clarity. So let me try again. When a United States Senator commits a non criminal act of indiscretion; and when it is brought to his attention he immediately has the integrity to apologize; and the apology is accepted by the victim: IT IS WRONG for the dogs of war to leap onto his back and demand his resignation from the United States Senate. It is morally wrong.

And as an aside for all you sanctimonious judges who are demanding my resignation, hear this. I was a civil right lawyer actively prosecuting sexual harassment cases on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office before Anita Hill and before you were born.

Lighten up folks. This is how Democrats remain in the minority.

Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper called O’Neill’s post “terrible” in a Tweet.

“Just a terrible post by Justice O’Neill. We’re having a serious national conversation about rape culture and sexual harassment, and it’s crucial for men to take time to listen to women and consider their experiences and insights. Justice O’Neill’s Facebook comments both dehumanize women and do nothing but trivialize this important conversation, which is actually about harassment and abuse, not encounters between consenting adults,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, a leading Democrat in the governor’s race, called for O’Neill to resign immediately, saying he was trivializing sexual harassment and assault.

Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, also a candidate for governor, says his “crass post is ill-timed and dismissive at best.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, the first woman to hold that position, also condemned the post.

“I condemn in no uncertain terms Justice O’Neill’s Facebook post. No words can convey my shock.This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

O’Neill’s campaign manager, Chris Clevenger, resigned from his position with the campaign. 

Fellow lawmakers have called for O’Neill to step down from his position as Ohio Supreme Court judge while he pursues the governor’s seat. He has recused himself of all new cases that come to the court but plans to remain active in cases that have already been filed and require work. He says he will not resign. 

O’Neill made headlines in August when he called the Cleveland Browns “draft dodging millionaire athletes” and criticized them for kneeling during the national anthem.

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