INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is facing some serious allegations.
According to The Indianapolis Star, Hill is accused of inappropriately touching four women at an Indianapolis bar.
Several lawmakers I talked to about this tell me this is an unfortunate situation. Hill said he did nothing wrong.
First reported Monday night by The Indianapolis Star, a lawmaker and three legislative staffers claimed Hill, a Republican, inappropriately touched and groped them at an end-of-session party at this bar in March.
State Rep. Cherrish Pryor, a Democrat from Indianapolis, described the situation as “very unfortunate.”
Pryor said, “I’m not happy about it at all. Very sad for the women that had to go through the horrible experience.”
State Sen. Jim Merritt, a Republican from Indianapolis, said, “It’s just an unfortunate situation. I think it’s something our leaders handled correctly.”
House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Temp David Long said via a statement that outside counsel was hired to make sure the matter was handled properly. While they interviewed all of the employees involved, they said in a statement, “At no time did legislative leaders, legislative staff or outside counsel conduct an investigation into the Attorney General.”
Bosma and Long released a more detailed joint statement Tuesday afternoon:
“The internal and confidential legal memorandum from outside counsel was received by the Legislative Services Agency on behalf and at the request of the four legislative leaders, who then received a copy of the document. At some point, there was an internal and egregious breach of confidentiality, and the memo was inappropriately shared with representatives of the media. At this time, we are investigating the source of this breach of employee confidentiality and will react accordingly if the source is discovered.”
“Outside counsel was engaged to reaffirm the policies and procedures of the House and Senate in regard to the handling of these specific employee complaints. At no time did the legislative leaders, legislative staff or outside counsel conduct an investigation into the Attorney General. All actions were conducted solely to protect legislative employees. The House and Senate conducted a thorough review of the employee complaints, and shared those concerns and allegations with the Attorney General via a conference call on Friday, June 29. A follow-up, in-person meeting with the four leaders was conducted on Monday, July 2. The House and Senate have a duty to protect legislative employees, and those employees have told us they believe our review of the matter has been thorough and fair.”
Indiana Democrats on Tuesday called on Hill to resign.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said about Hill in a statement:
“Like Governor Eric Holcomb has previously stated, Hoosier Democrats agree that there’s ‘zero room for harassment of any kind in any state government workplace’. These actions are never acceptable. We believe the multiple allegations against the Attorney General are serious, and raise material doubts over whether he can effectively carry out the duties of his office. Hill is Indiana’s chief law enforcement officer. It is not only his job to carry out the laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly, but also to protect Hoosiers from waste, fraud and abuse. The allegations reported yesterday are beyond troubling and wildly inappropriate in a professional or social environment for any person, much less a statewide elected official charged with such responsibility. Attorney General Hill should spare Hoosiers from this controversy and resign from office.”
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, who is from Anderson, also called for Hill to resign in a statement:
“When allegations against the Attorney General were first brought to my attention, I immediately supported my fellow leaders in conducting an investigation and pursuing legal advice as needed to protect and defend our staff. The investigation was implemented quickly and taken seriously, with the utmost importance placed on the confidentiality of our staff, at their request. The Attorney General’s behavior was totally reprehensible and certainly calls into question his ability to carry out his duties as the chief law enforcement officer of the state. The office and duties of the Attorney General call for the highest levels of ethics and unquestionable character and I believe Curtis Hill falls completely short of that standard. With that in mind, it is my belief that Curtis Hill can no longer adequately represent the best interest of Hoosiers nor effectively carry out his role and should resign from his position as Attorney General of Indiana.”
Hill denies the allegations and said he was never even made aware of them. In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Hill said:
“The lack of due process regarding this prejudicial investigation is deeply troubling. I first learned about this investigation on Friday, yet I was never contacted by an investigator, met with legislators on Monday, had requested a copy of the “confidential” report that had been provided to the media, and have been denied access to the report. Now I am being asked if I intend to resign based upon this prejudicial investigation. Let me be clear, I am not resigning my position as Attorney General. The people of the State of Indiana have given me the highest honor to have elected me with overwhelming support to the position of Attorney General. I will continue to honor my commitment to the citizens of this great state.”
The allegations came as lawmakers made plans to create policy in the House of Representatives and the Senate about sexual assault training for themselves in the next session.
Merritt, the state senator, said, “We’ve had sessions regarding behavior in the past and what is going on the workplace, so everyone has knowledge about it.”
Pryor, the state representative, said she wants the training to be required for all state employees and elected officials. “So people feel comfortable, they know what’s appropriate, what’s inappropriate.”
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement about Hill’s situation through its communications director, Peg McLeish:
“No investigation has been presented to our office by law enforcement regarding this matter. If it were to become a criminal investigation, Prosecutor Curry would be required to request a special prosecutor due to the Attorney General’s Office statutory role as counsel for all elected Indiana prosecutors in civil matters, as well as representing the State of Indiana in criminal appeals. The Attorney General currently represents the Marion County Prosecutor in two pending civil cases, as well as handling criminal appeals from Marion County.”
About the attorney general, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday in a statement:
“I’m in a remote area of Montana with Janet celebrating our anniversary for a few days. I have limited information from media sources I’m able to access. We took great care to update our sexual harassment policies for the executive, legislative and judicial branches in the past few months. No one should be subjected to unwanted sexual advances. I commend House and Senate leaders for their immediate and formal follow up to the allegations presented to them. I’ll return to Indianapolis late tomorrow night. Until I’ve reviewed the facts in detail, I will have no further comment.”