Temple University Board Chairman Patrick O'Connor did not violate any board policies in his defense of fellow trustee Bill Cosby in a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former Temple employee, the university said in a statement early Tuesday evening.
O'Connor, vice chairman of the Cozen O'Connor law firm, disclosed to the board in 2005 that he was representing Cosby against allegations that the entertainer drugged and molested Andrea Constand and that decision was "vetted" by the board, Temple said.
The statement of support comes one day after Art Hochner, president of Temple's faculty union, called on O'Connor to consider stepping down for representing Cosby while he also was supposed to be looking out for the best interests of Temple as a trustee. Other faculty also have objected to O'Connor's dual role.
But the university said O'Connor's actions did not conflict with "a long-standing policy of the Board requiring regular disclosure of situations involving a potential conflict of interest."
The release was accompanied by statements of support for O'Connor, who has been a trustee for 27 years and chairman since 2009, from both Temple President Neil D. Theobald and former board chairman Daniel Polett.
"In my experience," Theobald said, "the highest standards of ethical behavior and the best interest of Temple have always guided the chairman's leadership and relationship to the university."
O'Connor's representation of Cosby concluded in 2006 when a settlement was reached, the university noted. But he began representing Cosby again earlier this year when motions to make documents in the case public were filed.
A university spokesman said he didn't know if O'Connor had disclosed to the board again this year that his representation of Cosby had been restarted.
O'Connor could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and the university's release did not include comments from O'Connor.
Cosby resigned from the Temple board late last year as decades-old sexual assault allegations mounted and the board was mulling what to do.