Olivia Covington for www.theindianalawyer.com
Amid allegations of sexual misconduct against an Indiana lawmaker and growing calls for his resignation, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill vowed again Friday to stay put. Meanwhile, a Statehouse rally is planned for Saturday “to support victims of Curtis Hill.”
Reports that Hill groped and/or behaved inappropriately toward four women — including Democratic State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon — came to light Tuesday when a confidential memo created at the request of state legislative leaders was leaked to the media. The memo, which was prepared by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, records Reardon’s account of a drunken Hill sliding his hands down her back and under her clothes before grabbing her bare buttocks at an end-of-session legislative party in March. Though the memo says Hill repeated this conduct a second time, Reardon penned a column on Friday saying she was able to recoil before Hill could grope her a second time.
According to the memo, Indiana House and Senate leaders from both parties conducted an internal investigation when they learned of Hill’s alleged misconduct in May. Reardon wrote Friday that she initially intended to address the alleged groping with Hill in person, but chose to reveal the allegations to Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, after learning the Attorney General also behaved inappropriately toward legislative staffers, including one of her own.
Hill has denied the allegations since they were first reported on Tuesday, but throughout the week a growing number of state leaders — including fellow Republicans Bosma, Senate President pro tem David Long and Gov. Eric Holcomb — began calling for Hill’s resignation. The former Elkhart prosecutor vowed to stay in office on Tuesday, then repeated that promise in a Friday statement.
“I now stand falsely accused of some of the same crimes I spent 28 years prosecuting,” the statement said. “Yet without a thorough investigation — without the right to face my accusers and review the evidence against me — I am convicted by public officials demanding my resignation. I believed that the standard in this country is that you are innocent until proven guilty – not guilty until proven innocent.”
“I am not resigning,” Hill said in the statement. “The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately. The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty.”
Hill also demanded the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office conduct a “fair and thorough investigation” of the allegations against him. When contacted by the Indiana Lawyer on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said no investigation against Hill had been presented to his office. If it were, the spokeswoman said Curry would have to appoint a special prosecutor because of Hill’s “statutory role as counsel for all elected Indiana prosecutors.”
Hill then went on to reference a statement Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor and sexual harassment law expert Jennifer Drobac made to media this week, in which she said the investigation “should be redone completely.” Drobac shared a similar sentiment with Indiana Lawyer on Thursday, saying, “The powers that be failed us 100 percent.”
Among the issues that Drobac identified with the investigative process was the fact that, according to the memo, Hill was not involved. Hill himself said as much on Tuesday, and a joint statement from Long and Bosma said he was only made aware of the allegations, which came to their attention in mid-May, during a conference call on June 29.
Bosma and Long then said they held an in-person meeting with Hill on July 2. The confidential memo was leaked later that day, prompting the chorus of calls for Hill’s resignation.
“Elected officials have called for my resignation without affording me any due process or conducting an actual, fair and independent investigation,” Hill said Friday. “… This fundamental lack of fairness and due process regarding this prejudicial so-called ‘investigation’ is in violation of the principles on which this country was founded.”
Hill’s statement also referenced the fact the Office of the Indiana Inspector General has agreed to open an investigation into the allegations at the request of Bosma and Long. The Attorney General took specific aim at Holcomb and his support for that investigation, saying that because Holcomb “has already determined the outcome of the investigation,” the Inspector General will not be able “to conduct a fair and independent investigation.” Holcomb publicly stated that he believed the stories of Reardon and the other victims, thus prompting his call for Hill’s resignation.
With the accusations against Hill looming, groups including the Indiana Victims Rights Coalition, Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and other groups announced a rally at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Statehouse Capitol steps “to stand as a community and call for Curtis Hill’s resignation.”
“This nonpartisan event is a way of standing together in solidarity to say, enough is enough,” the groups announced in a press release Friday. “The rally will continue as long as Curtis Hill remains in office. Time’s up, Curtis Hill.”