A state-level attorney general has potentially found himself on the opposite side of the laws that someone in that position is typically responsible for upholding.
Republican Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill was hit Tuesday with a federal lawsuit filed by four women who allege that he drunkenly and inappropriately touched and sexually harassed them at a party in 2018, as well discriminated and retaliated against them over the year that has passed since that incident.
Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR reports that the four women behind the lawsuit include Democrat State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and three legislative aides: Niki DaSilva, Samantha Lozano, and Gabrielle McLemore. All four claim that an intoxicated Hill groped them and made suggestive remarks at a bar where a group had gathered to celebrate the conclusion of the legislative session.
Reardon said at a press conference on Tuesday: “When an elected official betrays the public trust in such an egregious way so as to commit sexual battery and assault, and doesn’t have the honor to resign to maintain the dignity of the office there have to be consequences for those actions. And there have to be options to hold him accountable.”
The lawsuit not only seeks the removal of Hill from his position but also a court-ordered apology and retraction from Hill for things he has said about the accusers, as well as unspecified monetary awards for damages suffered that would be paid by both Hill and the State of Indiana.
On top of that, the suit also seeks to compel the implementation of institutional changes, such as additional protections for lawmakers or legislative staffers who allege to have been a victim of crime.
The women’s lawsuit comes on the heels of the conclusion of a special prosecutor’s investigation into the allegations, which determined that there was evidence of inappropriate behavior by Hill but that formal charges over the incident were unwarranted. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has asked the attorney general to resign, but Hill has thus far refused.
For his part, Hill has denied any and all wrongdoing and his office announced that it would “defend vigorously” against the allegations leveled at both Hill and the state.
“The lawsuit is related to allegations that have now been reviewed four times,” read a statement from the AG’s office. “The investigations all concluded without any recommendations for further action.”
Even aside from the lawsuit, Hill could still be in some trouble. He faces a professional misconduct hearing in October in which the Indiana Supreme Court could level serious sanctions against him — up to and including disbarment.
Quest for truth
It is difficult to know what to make of these allegations and the lawsuit against Indiana’s attorney general. Obviously, if he did, in fact, conduct himself inappropriately toward the women and engaged in the acts they claim he did, there needs to be accountability.
However, if the allegations and lawsuit stem from malice or partisan opposition to Hill, then he and his office should indeed “defend vigorously” against the charges. It may take the courts and yet another investigation to determine the whole truth of this matter.