COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A state Supreme Court justice running for governor volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook on Friday, saying he was taking a swipe at the “media frenzy” over sexual misconduct.
Democrat William O’Neill’s post was immediately attacked as inappropriate and led to calls for his ouster.
In it, he wrote that he has been “sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females,” including “a gorgeous blonde” with whom he “made passionate love” in a hay loft and a “drop dead gorgeous red head” from Cleveland.
After posting the message, he edited it to remove some identifying information about the women.
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.
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.
“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.
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 spokesman resigned over it.
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.”
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,” 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. Corday resigned his post as federal consumer chief Wednesday and is widely expected to make a bid for governor.