By Seth A. Richardson
Sitting Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, responding to Franken allegations, claims bedding 50 women
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, a Democratic candidate for governor, apparently trying to head off any criticisms from his opponents, revealed what he says are his sexual escapades over the years on a Facebook post.
A post on O’Neill’s official Facebook said he was speaking up “on behalf of all heterosexual males” after allegations against Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken came to light Thursday. O’Neill, a Chagrin Falls native, said he had been “sexually intimate” with “approximately 50 very attractive females.”
O’Neill said he was disappointed by the “national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago” and wanted to focus on the issues like legalizing marijuana and addressing opioid addiction. Over the last several weeks, numerous allegations of predatory sexual behavior against powerful men have come to light.
In his post, O’Neill — the only Democrat elected to statewide office — went into detail about two of his sexual relationships, including one with a woman he said was a personal secretary to U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Sr. who was his “first true love,” and a “drop dead gorgeous red head who was a senior adviser to Peter Lewis at Progressive Insurance in Cleveland.”
He later edited the post to remove identifying details.
In an interview with cleveland.com O’Neill confirmed he wrote the post and defended Franken.
O’Neill also defended Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment from seven women, including molesting a 14-year-old girl.
” Roy Moore apparently seems to be a challenged individual when it comes to morality,” O’Neill said. “I think that’s very, very clear. He’s been convicted of nothing and he’s never had the opportunity to defend himself and that violates due process in America. The media is about to determine the election of a United States Senate campaign.”
O’Neill also volunteered that he wasn’t sure if the number of women he referenced being sexually intimate with was actually 50, because he “doesn’t keep count.”
He said he did not think it was improper for a Supreme Court justice to comment on his sex life.
O’Neill’s post immediately received both derisive and dumfounded responses.
“For a second I thought about at least considering supporting you,” wrote Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach. “Not only have you lost any glimpse of support from me, (you’ve) also lost my respect.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, a Dayton-area Republican who has called for O’Neill to resign, said it was “conduct unbecoming of a Supreme Court justice.”
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Republican candidate for governor, called the post “ill-timed and dismissive at best.”
The four other Democratic gubernatorial candidates all admonished O’Neill.
Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton said on Twitter she was “horrified” and “outraged he would equate sexual assault with indiscretion.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni said O’Neill should step down from the bench.
“Sexual harassment, degrading and devaluing women is not a joke,” Whaley posted in a tweet. “Justice O’Neill should resign.”
Pillich also said she would be donating his contributions to charity, adding that O’Neill had donated to her campaign since declaring his own candidacy.
“Bill O’Neill has been a friend and he’s donated to my campaign, even after declaring his own candidacy for gov,” Pillich wrote. “But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault. Justice O’Neill should resign and I will be donating his contributions to orgs helping women.”
In an interview with Statehouse News Bureau, O’Neill said he would not resign from the state’s high court.
“Absolutely not,” O’Neill said. “You know, we don’t have robots on the bench. We have real people.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis said O’Neill was completely missing the point of the larger debate surrounding sexual harassment and assault.
“Unfortunately, Justice O’Neill’s Facebook comments that dehumanize women add nothing to this important conversation, which is actually about harassment and abuse, not encounters between consenting adults,” she said.
O’Neill later deleted the post and told everyone to “lighten up.”
Cleveland.com reporter Andrew Tobias and Jeremy Pelzer contributed to this report.
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