Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ohio justice deletes Facebook post, tells people to ‘lighten up’

Published: 11/19/17 @ 12:00

Associated Press


An Ohio Supreme Court justice and Democratic gubernatorial candidate said on Facebook that people should “lighten up” after deleting a previous post outlining his sexual history with women that drew widespread criticism for trivializing sexual harassment and sexual assault.

William O’Neill’s original post Friday criticized “the dogs of war” who were calling for Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign after being accused of groping a woman during a USO Tour in 2006. O’Neill wrote that he had been “sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females” during his life and mentioned several encounters, including one in a hayloft of her parents’ barn.

Critics from both parties were swift to condemn the 70-year-old O’Neill, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican. Some called for his immediate ouster from the court.

“No words can convey my shock,” O’Connor said in a statement Friday. “This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

In an interview Saturday with The Associated Press, O’Neill said he doesn’t regret what he wrote and that he edited the original post and then deleted it after an online commenter called him insensitive for including information that could identify some of the women.

“I agreed with them and took it down,” O’Neill said. “I’m a gentleman after all.”

His latest Facebook post doesn’t mention his sexual past but again references “the dogs of war” hounding Franken. The post says “sanctimonious judges” calling for him to quit should note his history as an Ohio assistant attorney general prosecuting sexual- harassment cases.

“Lighten up folks,” the post concludes. “This is how Democrats remain in the minority.”

O’Neill said during Saturday’s interview that his message was misunderstood and that his civil- rights history shows he’s not an “insensitive misogynist.” He said he wrote the original post because “the sensitive subject of sexual harassment” has led people to treat Franken and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, “in the exact same fashion.”

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