Hours after detailing his sexual history on Facebook, sitting Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill told WKYC's Monica Robins he'll likely drop out of the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race.
O'Neill, who had announced his intentions to run for governor of Ohio in October, made headlines on Friday when he issued a Facebook post intending to defend Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who apologized on Thursday after being accused of sexual misconduct during a USO tour in 2006. In the process, O'Neill described his own sexual history, which he proclaimed included sex with "approximately" 50 partners over the course of the past 50 years.
While O'Neill claims he had been planning to leave the governor's race anyway with former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray seemingly about to run, he nonetheless defended his social media post to Monica Robins.
"Sexual harassment is a big problem in America. I know that," O'Neill said. "But I think the Al Franken case is a classic example [of] where the media frenzy takes real[ly] bad acts and goes into indiscretions and says, 'That is a disqualifying event.'"
However, while Franken and others like Judge Roy Moore have been accused of unwanted sexual contact, O'Neill says all of his claimed sexual encounters have been consensual. He also denied being "out of touch" with the current national debate on sexual harassment.
"Every media outlet in the free world wants to talk to me today," O'Neill said. "No, I'm not out of touch."
O'Neill did admit regret for the original version of the post, which included some personal information (though no names) of two of his alleged sexual partners. He later edited the post and removed that information.
The post proceeded to go viral on Friday afternoon, with sites from The Washington Post to Deadspin.com running stories on the Democratic candidate. It also drew the ire of several of his colleagues and political opponents alike, including Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, who said in a statement: “I condemn in no uncertain terms Justice O’Neill’s Facebook post. No words can convey my shock. This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”
Besides merely exiting the race, the majority of O'Neill's election opponents also called for him to resign from the Ohio Supreme Court. O'Neill said he "expected" that reaction, although he currently has no plans to step down.