Temple Board Chair Questioned on Cosby Role

July 23, 2015

Faculty leaders at Temple University are questioning whether the university's board chair, Patrick O’Connor, created a conflict of interest by serving as a lawyer for Bill Cosby in one of the suits against him, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Cosby is an alumnus of Temple who served on its board until last year's scandal over the many allegations that he drugged women and then raped them. O’Connor represented Cosby in a 2005 suit against him and was involved again in a dispute over access to records from that suit. Professors say that a conflict was created in terms of the Temple board's ability to determine whether ties to Cosby (including his role on the board) were appropriate when one board member was the lawyer for another (Cosby).

Initially, the university did not respond to the criticism, including a call from the faculty union president for O’Connor to step down. But the university then issued statements backing O’Connor and saying that the Temple board at O’Connor's request “vetted” his decision to represent Cosby, so that other board members were aware of his involvement in the case. Other statements from the university praised O’Connor's ethics.

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