Ohio Supreme Court Justice defends post, expected to drop out of governor’s race

CLEVELAND-- Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill defended and attempted to clarify a Facebook post on Friday. In the post, he derided, what he called, the "feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions from decades ago" that is now so prevalent in the news.

Several prominent politicians sharply criticized O'Neill's comments, including Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

In his post, O'Neill, a candidate for governor, said he wanted to save opponents time researching him.

"In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females," he wrote on his page. "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."

In his first interview since the post, O'Neill told FOX 8 he understood his comments caused a firestorm.

"My own daughters have taken exception to it and I full understand that. And I fully understand the anguish of victims,. I get that. But I'm saying that we now have in America, a new standard, being driven by the media, if you're not absolutely pure, you're not eligible to run for office," he told FOX 8's Bill Sheil.

He also said his media representative resigned.

O'Neill said he was prompted to post the comments in reaction to calls for Sen. Al Franken to resign. Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, apologized to a woman he made an advance on about a decade ago. She has accepted his apology.

O'Neill said such scrutiny could force good people from office.

He drew a sharp distinction between Franken and others who've been accused of more aggressive actions. That includes Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of pursuing teens when he was an adult, who O'Neill did not defend.

But he said in his post the attention surrounding people like Franken take the attention away from issues such as the opioid crisis.

"I am sooooo disappointed by this feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago," O'Neill wrote.

The Democrat is suppose to serve another year on the state Supreme Court before retiring at age 70.

O'Neill is expected to drop out of the governor's race. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray plans to run as a Democrat.

O'Neill said he had no regrets on the posting because one should speak up if one sees something wrong, which he sees in the "frenzy" surrounding Al Franken.

"I had something to say so I said it."

Friday night, O'Neill removed the original Facebook post and put up a new one that said:

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.