INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A hearing officer has recommended Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill be suspended for 60 days after several women accused Hill of inappropriate sexual contact in 2018.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby proposed the punishment in a report to the Indiana Supreme Court, which will make the final decision.
Her recommendation came after a four-day hearing in October where Hill defended himself of any wrongdoing. A disciplinary commission in December recommended the Indiana Supreme Court suspend the law license of the state’s attorney general for two years over allegations he drunkenly groped four women at a bar in an act of professional misconduct.
Hill, 58, has disputed the claims from a legislator and three legislative staffers that he inappropriately touched their backs or buttocks during a party celebrating the end of the legislative session in March 2018.
The women — Gabrielle Brock, a Senate Democratic staff member; Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster; Democratic House staffer Samantha Lozano; and Niki DaSilva, a former Republican Senate aide — testified at the October hearing.
In a document filed in the case, the hearing officer’s conclusions said, “Respondent’s conduct was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing to Brock, Reardon, Lozano and DaSilva. As Attorney General, he used his state office staff and others to engage in public campaign to defend himself and intimidate the complainants. Based on all of the foregoing, the Hearing Officer recommends sanction of sixty (60) day suspension without automatic reinstatement.”
Parties involved in the case will now have 30 days to file responses to the hearing officer’s recommendation and, if that happens, a final ruling could be delayed for weeks as parties reply to those responses.
Once responses and replies are filed, the Supreme Court will consider the matter. The justices would determine what, if any, misconduct occurred and what, if any, sanction is appropriate.
Hill is represented in the case by Donald R. Lundberg and James H. Voyles Jr. Voyles declined to comment.
Hill took office in 2017. He announced in November that he will seek reelection this year. Voters do not select party candidates for attorney general in primary elections; that selection happens later in state conventions of the political parties.
Jonathan Weinzapfel, a Democratic Party candidate for attorney general, issued a statement to react to the hearing officer’s recommendation: “As outlined in the report, Curtis Hill’s actions during and after the incident have proven him unworthy of the public’s trust. I believe the women involved in this situation. And, I believe Curtis Hill is an absolute embarrassment. He should resign, and if the Supreme Court doesn’t remove him, the people of Indiana will.”
The attorneys who represent the four women said in a statement they are “pleased that Hill’s improper conduct was taken seriously” and found the hearing officer’s 36-page report to be “thoughtful, well-reasoned and consistent with the evidence presented and Indiana law.”
“Just as the Special Prosecutor and Inspector General explicitly recognized, our clients’ credibility has been confirmed yet again and corroborated by a multitude of witnesses called by both the Indiana Disciplinary Commission and Attorney General Hill’s defense,” the statement from the women’s attorneys said. “We hope, at a minimum, the Indiana Supreme Court adopts this suggested discipline. Hill’s ethics as the state’s highest legal officer affect us all. We’ll continue to move forward with the civil lawsuit against Curtis Hill and the State of Indiana.”