Ohio Supreme Court Justice and Democratic gubernatorial candidate William O'Neill says he apologizes if his Facebook post discussing his sexual history with women has offended anyone, particularly "the wonderful women in my life."
O'Neill's latest post on Saturday afternoon comes a day after he deleted the original post, which said he had been "sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females," including "a gorgeous blonde" with whom he "made passionate love" in a hayloft, and a "drop dead gorgeous redhead."
O'Neill's post said he was speaking out while "the dogs of war" were calling for Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken to resign after groping accusations.
Condemned by Democrats and Republicans
The original post caused a furor, leading to condemnation by members of both parties and the court's chief justice.
O'Neill continues to defend Democratic Sen. Al Franken in his latest post, saying that comparing an allegation of groping made against Franken by a woman during a USO tour in 2006 to allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted teenage girls decades ago "trivializes the serious subject at hand."
O'Neill, 70, told the Associated Press the details provided were true and he was trying to make a point.
"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.
There’s a very serious conversation going on right now in this country about sexual harassment and @BillForOhio's crass post is ill-timed and dismissive at best. We have to be better than this. https://t.co/Ee1p9q9pc0— @MaryTaylorOH
Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, the first woman to lead the state's high court, immediately condemned the post.
"No words can convey my shock," she said in a statement. "This gross disrespect for women shakes the public's confidence in the integrity of the judiciary."
All other Democrats seeking the governorship — former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni — called for O'Neill to resign, saying he was trivializing the issue.
Rival 'appalled' at judge's remarks
"As an attorney, I'm appalled at these remarks of a Supreme Court Justice," Sutton said. "As a Democrat, I'm horrified a statewide candidate would belittle victims of sexual harassment and assault this way. And, as a woman, I'm outraged he would equate sexual assault with indiscretion."
Only a day earlier, Sutton unveiled a plan to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault in state government, where two lawmakers have resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations in about a month's time.
(2/2) 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. https://t.co/NmdDeWnM3g— @DavidPepper
Others to condemn the post included Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Republican candidate for governor; state Democratic Chairman David Pepper; and the Republican National Committee.
O'Neill's campaign spokesperson Chris Clevenger resigned over it, calling O'Neill's comments "disturbing and misguided."
"There's a very serious conversation going on right now in this country about sexual harassment and @BillForOhio's crass post is ill-timed and dismissive at best. We have to be better than this," Taylor said on Twitter.
Pepper wrote on Twitter that this was a "terrible" post, trivializing women.
The post drew thousands of comments, reactions or shares on Facebook and was a trending topic on Twitter, drawing mostly negative reaction but some positive comments.
O'Neill said the Facebook post grew out of frustration over Democrats' calls to remove Al Franken, a Minnesota U.S. senator and former Saturday Night Live performer, from the U.S. Senate over sexual misconduct allegations.
"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," O'Neill wrote on Facebook, following up on similar remarks he made earlier. "It is morally wrong."
Critics should 'lighten up'
He suggested calls for removing Franken were part of a "feeding frenzy" and said his critics should "Lighten up folks."
But many critics were particularly offended that O'Neill purported to be "speaking for all heterosexual males."
'Newsflash: no one asked how many notches you have on your belt." - Ellie Hockenbury
"Newsflash: no one asked how many notches you have on your belt," the Republican National Committee's Ellie Hockenbury wrote in an email. "The so-called 'national feeding frenzy' is about empowering victims of sexual assault or harassment who've been afraid to speak up; it's not an opportunity to brag about your sexual conquests through the years."'
O'Neill's candidacy had already been under scrutiny.
Republicans have launched efforts to remove O'Neill from the bench for violating a prohibition in the judicial code of conduct against running for a non-judicial office while serving on the bench. O'Neill argues he will not be a "candidate" under that rule until he files the necessary paperwork in February.
O'Neill told the AP this week he will not run for governor if Democrat Richard Cordray does. Cordray resigned his post as federal consumer chief Wednesday and is widely expected to make a bid for governor.