A federal lawsuit filed by four women alleges that Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill groped them at a party last year, according to the Associated Press. The allegations first surfaced last July and were investigated last fall. The four women announced they intended to sue Hill after a special prosecutor said she wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against him.
The women say that Hill drunkenly touched their backs and buttocks and made inappropriate comments at a party in March 2018. One of the accusers is State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, and the other three are legislative staffers. Hill denies all wrongdoing.
“When an elected official betrays the trust, 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,” Candelaria Reardon said in a statement, according to the AP.
“I want him to know how profoundly he’s affected all of our lives,” Candelaria Reardon, told The Daily Beast. “This isn’t a game.”
The attorney general’s office will defend Hill.
“The lawsuit is related to allegations that have now been reviewed four times,” the office said in a statement. “The investigations all concluded without any recommendations for further action.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Hill is facing sanctions from the state Supreme Court that could lead to his disbarment as a lawyer.
The lawsuit accuses Hill of defaming the accusers on social media as well as committing sexual harassment. It requests an apology, unspecified monetary damages, and requests that the state adopt more stringent policies on sexual harassment.
From the accounts, it sounds like the alleged groping was pretty shameless.
From The Daily Beast:
Reardon told The Daily Beast on Monday that Hill “slid his hand onto my exposed back and down into my dress and grabbed my ass.” Several witnesses told investigators that they witnessed the interaction. Reardon allegedly told Hill to “back off” and was then seen mouthing “what the fuck.”
Then, 30 minutes later, Hill allegedly said “that back, that skin” while approaching her a second time.
“Everybody says ‘you should have slapped him,’” Candelaria Reardon told The Daily Beast. “My reaction was flight, not fight. It’s a total and complete violation, and you don’t know how traumatic it is until it happens to you.”
“I was just worried, ‘What are other people thinking around me?’” another accuser, Gabrielle McLemore, told The Daily Beast. “‘Do they think that I want him to be rubbing my back?’ ‘Does it look like I invited him over?’”
According to AP, the special prosecutor maintains that Hill doesn’t deny the groping allegations, but says they were “incidental ... in the crowded bar” and “not intended to be disrespectful, sexual in nature or rude.” An inspector general’s report called Hill’s behavior “creepy” but said it didn’t violate ethics rules.
Candelaria Reardon says she hopes the lawsuit provokes “institutional change” in Indiana.
“The state of Indiana has simply failed to adequately protect the individuals that work in and around the Statehouse—all of them—as required by federal law,” Hannah Kaufman Joseph, the accusers’ attorney, told AP.