Hill denies sexual misconduct in urging dismissal of discipline complaint

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Dave Sttaford for www.theindianalawyer.com

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill responded to his disciplinary complaint by denying he touched the lawmaker or three legislative aides who have accused him of groping them and making unwanted sexual advances at a party marking the end of the 2018 General Assembly session. He also says the disciplinary complaint against him should be dropped.

Hill filed a response Friday to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission’s complaint. In it, he denied allegations by Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, that he placed his hand on her bare back, “rubbed his hand down her bare back and grabbed or touched Candelaria Reardon’s buttocks.”

Candelaria Reardon accused Hill of allegedly groping her at a sine die party in March 2018, at AJ’s Lounge in Indianapolis, to which Hill simply replies “denied” in response to the accusations in his disciplinary complaint filed in March. Likewise, Hill denies the accusations of legislative staff members Gabrielle McLemore, Samantha Lozano and Niki DaSilva, each of whom has alleged that an intoxicated Hill made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances at the party — accusations that sparked calls for Hill’s resignation from Gov. Eric Holcomb and legislative leaders in both parties.

Hill also seeks in his reply to have the disciplinary complaint against him dismissed. In the response prepared by former disciplinary commission executive director Donald Lundberg and famed Indianapolis criminal defense attorney James Voyles, the AG argues the commission “failed to provide adequate notice to (Hill) of additional allegations or evidence regarding the respondent’s alleged professional misconduct as required by Admission and Discipline Rule 23, Section 10(d).”

In bringing attorney ethics charges against Hill based on each woman’s accusations, the commission asserted the attorney general committed criminal offenses against each of them that range from Level 6 felony sexual battery to Class B misdemeanor battery. The commission’s ethics case against Hill was filed months after a special prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, despite saying he believed the accusers. An inspector general investigation also cleared Hill of state ethics and criminal charges despite “creepy” behavior.

Hill’s accusers have vowed to sue Hill, the AG’s office and the state.

Just as Hill has vehemently resisted calls for his resignation in the wake of the allegations, he also continues to attempt to minimize public actions he took from the AG’s office after news of the accusations broke last summer. For instance, Hill responds to the commission’s assertion that as chief legal officer for the state he has a heightened duty of ethical conduct by arguing this is merely an aggravating factor. “To the extent any answer is required, (Hill) denies this averment,” the reply says.

Hill uses that same response to the commission’s assertion that he initially denied the accusers’ claims to legislative leaders then “admitted repeatedly that he had too much to drink or words to that effect. Thereafter, (Hill) changed his story and claimed that he was not inebriated.”

He also uses the same reply to the commission’s assertion that he “has held public news events in his role as Attorney General in which he denounced the allegations as untrue and implied the victims falsified their accounts. Later, (Hill) portrayed the victims as mistaken or misperceiving his conduct.”

Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby has been appointed as the hearing officer overseeing Hill’s disciplinary complaint.

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