Justice O'Neill Apologizes For Facebook Post On Sexual History But Won't Resign

Nov 20, 2017

After a controversial Facebook post Friday mentioning sexual liaisons with 50 women, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill has taken down that post and apologized for what he wrote. But he said he won't resign, though some have said he should.

“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,” O’Neill wrote. “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.”

O’Neill said he’s concerned about the calls for Sen. Al Franken to resign after apologizing for forcibly kissing and groping a woman in 2006, but said he knew he’d have to say something outrageous to get attention.

"We are at a point in America right now where a U.S. Senator is about to lose his seat for an inappropriate stolen kiss 11 years ago during a comedy skit," he said. "That was the point I was trying to raise, but I apparently did do it very well at all."

Critics said O’Neill’s initial post with details about sexual conquests trivialized sexual harassment. O'Neill even edited the post to take out information that could reveal the identities of his past partners.

O'Neill's original Facebook post, with some details redacted that could identify past partners.
Credit Jo Ingles

Both Democratic and Republican candidates for governor said they were "appalled" and "horrified" by O'Neill's comments, and argued he should resign from office and step out of the governor's race - which O'Neil said he would enter but has yet to officially do.

"There's nothing funny about sexual assault," wrote former state Rep. Connie Pillich.

O'Neill said he wouldn't resign, and initially stood by his comments. Now he says he was misunderstood.

“I think the reaction certainly trivialized it, but that was never my intention,” O'Neill said.

He said thousands of angry comments, including from his two daughters and two sisters, made him see things differently.

“That’s why I’ve taken the post down and issued what I hope to be accepted as a heartfelt apology,” O'Neill said.

"I have damaged the national debate on the very real subject of sexual harassment, abuse and unfortunately rape," O'Neill wrote in a post on Sunday. "It is not a laughing matter."

O’Neill said Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor also shared her disappointment, and he said he’ll start working on that relationship right away.