INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Four women who accuse Indiana’s Attorney General Curtis Hill of groping them are now suing him and the state of Indiana in federal court.
They say Hill inappropriately touched them during end-of-session party, often called Sine Die, at AJ’s Bar in Indianapolis on March 15, 2018.
Three of the women – Niki DaSilvia, Samantha Lozano and Gabby McLemore – and their attorney were interviewed live on Daybreak Wednesday.
They said sexual harassment is a pervasive issue at the Indiana Statehouse, and they want it to stop.
“It’s way more than what happened the day of the event,” said McLemore. “It’s not just those few minutes where you were touched by the attorney general but it’s every day since then. Anytime the office gets brought up or sine die gets brought up you’re taken back to that night and you can’t really get past it.”
The women also explained they are suing the state for not fulfilling its legal obligations to its employees. They said they hope the Indiana Statehouse changes its sexual harassment training policies.
“I was stunned when our clients told us that their training on sexual harassment consisted of an attorney with the statehouse reading the sexual harassment policy verbatim out loud. That was the training. Literally reading the written policy. Not answering questions, not having discussions,” said attorney Hannah Kaufman Joseph.
Curtis Hill accusers share story on Daybreak
The women also outlined the struggles they’ve faced since going public with their allegations, saying coworkers treat them differently and have removed tasks they usually completed because it brings them in contact with the Attorney General’s office.
The group had tried to pursue criminal charges against Hill, but a special prosecutor declined the case, saying he believed the women but would struggle to prove their claims.
Curtis Hill has denied all wrongdoing and refused requests from lawmakers to step down.
To hear more and watch the entire segment, click on the video.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Storm Track 8 Meteorologists expect the so-called “bomb cyclone” storm to reach central Indiana just after lunchtime Thursday.
Early Thursday morning, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center upgraded the severe weather risk to “enhanced” for central Indiana.
The storm is called a bomb cyclone to reference the speed at which it develops, according to NOAA. It’s also called a bombogenesis and happens when the pressure inside a storm drops twice as fast as usual, creating high winds and heavy snow or rain. It’s not the first one to hit the country; the January 2018 storm that knocked out power to the east coast was also classified as a bomb cyclone.
The storm has already caused serious damage in states including Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. White-out conditions, a 100-car pile up, and damage to several buildings, trees and vehicles have been reported.
In central Indiana, the strong storm could bring gusts as high as 40-60 miles per hour, thunderstorm warnings, and tornado warnings, according to Storm Track 8’s Stephanie Mead and Randy Ollis. It has emergency management officials on high alert.
Hamilton County Emergency Management Executive Director Shane Booker said Wednesday his team is especially worried about the wind damage the storm could bring.
“There is a low-pressure system that’s out over Kansas area right now (Wednesday evening), and it’s at near record-low levels,” Booker said.
“You may have heard the term floating around social media “bomb cyclone” or “land hurricane.” Basically, what that means is we have a strong storm system heading in our direction and the pressure is going to be really really low, and, when the pressure is low, the winds ramp up. Those wind speeds will be really high around 10 a.m. and last all afternoon long,” Storm Track 8’s Tara Hastings said.
Hastings and emergency management officials shared three big concerns with the high winds:
- Power outages
- Loose tree limbs falling unexpectedly
- Saturated ground could make trees unstable
EMA director Booker said, “We are concerned. This is really the first opportunity in the spring for us to have severe weather. Next week is severe weather preparedness week (in Indiana) so we haven’t really had the opportunity to do the messaging that we normally do in preparation for storms.”
When seconds matter, Hastings said, being prepared is the best defense.
Storm Track 8’s Hastings said, “Make sure you go over your emergency plan what to do if there is a severe thunderstorm warning that’s issued or a tornado warning that’s issued. make sure that you know where to go in your safe space.”
The emergency team in Hamilton County has crews on standby for Thursday, Booker said, and they have already internally tested their warning sirens to make sure those are up and going. Booker advised since the brunt of the storm could take place during the afternoon rush hour, commuters should consider trying to leave work early to avoid the storm.
Another tip for those at home, Booker said: Tie down or bring in any loose items that could be laying around in the backyard so they don’t pose a problem later.
One final tip, Booker said, is to make sure you have your weather radio programmed and ready to go, as that could be a life-saving tool ahead of the storm.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IMPD officers are investigating after three men were shot overnight on the northeast side of Indianapolis.
Police received the call around 1:45 a.m. Sunday from a residential area near 42nd street and Post Road.
Officers say two of the victims are in critical condition and one is in serious condition at the hospital.
The crime scene is in the 4000 block of North Brentwood Drive, west of the True Deliverance Apostolic Church.
Investigators have not released any information about a suspect.
Those with information are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers Tipline at 317-262-TIPS (8477).
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The family of a man killed Saturday night in an apparent road rage shooting are speaking out against the death, calling it a hate crime.
According to an autopsy report, Mustafa Ayoubi, 32, was shot eight times in a parking lot of the Lakeside Crossing Apartments at Eagle Creek on Feb. 16. IMPD officers say Dustin Passarelli, 33, identified himself as the shooter and was arrested on scene.
Friday Ayoubi’s older sister, Zahra Ayoubi, 33, spoke to members of the media in front of the Marion County courtroom while Passarelli was inside for his initial hearing. She spent the majority of her statement praising her younger brother, calling him the “genius of the family,” saying he was “ahead in school” and attended the IU Kelley School of Business.
She said her family buried him yesterday and that she doesn’t want any other family to have that experience. She said she’s fighting against this crime as a hate crime.
“It is what it is. A hate crime,” Zahra Ayoubi said.
She asked people to use the social media hashtag #Justice4Mustafa. She is supported by the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national organization who sent a representative to Indianapolis just for this criminal case.
The IMPD arrest affidavit for Passarelli released Thursday includes interviews from three witnesses and Passarelli himself. News 8’s Eric Feldman had already spoken to the witnesses Monday. They said they’re friends of Ayoubi and called his death a hate crime.
In the arrest documents, the three witnesses told police Ayoubi was meeting them at the apartment complex to go play pool. The men told police Ayoubi showed up at the complex, got out of his car and got in a shouting match with a man, Passarelli, who had followed him there.
Passarelli told police Ayoubi had driven up behind him on I-465 aggressively, honking and flashing his lights. Passarelli said he heard a bang and thought Ayoubi had hit his vehicle or thrown something at it, so he followed Ayoubi, looping twice around a McDonald’s parking lot until finally arriving at the apartments.
The witnesses told police they heard Passarelli using religious and ethnic insults aimed at Ayoubi, Islam, and Muhammad.
“He starts saying ‘You are all foreigners. You have to get out of our country,'” said Usman Ashraf, a witness, “and that’s when I said, ‘We’re all American citizens. This is our country.'”
The three witnesses said Ayoubi was calling Passarelli a racist and said, “You know what get out of the (expletive) car let’s take it out right now.”
In his interview in the arrest affidavit, Passarelli told police Ayoubi had used a religious slur, calling Passarelli a “dirty Jew” and saying “I’ll kill you, you (expletive) Jew.”
The witnesses said Passarelli used many religious slurs throughout the argument, saying: “Muhammed was a pedophile,” “Go back to your (expletive) country,” and “I’m gonna (expletive) him and I’m gonna (expletive) Muhammed.”
The witnesses told police they tried to calm everyone down but said Ayoubi walked to the driver’s side door and Passarelli opened fire.
According to the autopsy report Ayoubi was hit eight times, mostly in the back. The witnesses said Ayoubi tried to run away as Passarelli started shooting.
“Mustafa turned around, he started running and, instead of shooting him once or twice, he (Passarelli) emptied the whole clip on his back,” said Ashraf.
Passarelli remains in custody without bail for a murder charge.
Friday morning Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry released the following statement:
“We have said on many occasions, too many occasions in fact, that hate and crimes motivated by hate are real. Some in the legislature wish to push the dialogue into the hypothetical, but those of us who listen to our neighbors understand that this is an unfortunate reality in our state.
“While the disturbing allegations underlying the charge in this case remain to be proven at trial, we are obviously unable to charge this alleged act as a hate crime. The death of Mr. Ayoubi has been charged as a Murder, which we will vigorously prosecute to seek justice for Mr. Ayoubi, for his family and loved ones, and for all members of the Hoosier Muslim community who have been impacted by this tragedy.”
The FBI is monitoring this case for possible violations of federal hate crime laws. The current debate inside the Indiana Statehouse on a hate crime law would not be enacted in time to affect this case.
News 8’s Tim McNicholas reached out to Prosecutor Curry’s office asking for an interview. A spokesperson declined the request and would not answer when McNicholas asked if Curry considers Ayoubi’s death a hate crime.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Two people were arrested Thursday in connection with the Wednesday death of a 1-year-old boy.
Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department responded to the 6000 block of North Keystone Avenue just after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday on a report of a possible dead child. After arriving on scene, officers discovered that an ambulance had already been flagged down. The responding medical personnel pronounced 1-year-old Dontrell Mcclung dead at the scene, according to IMPD.
While on scene, homicide detectives learned that the child might have been injured at a residence in the 6000 block of Primrose Avenue. An autopsy performed Thursday revealed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
The child’s mother, 19-year-old Kira Fear, was arrested Thursday along with her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tyree Resnover. They both face preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent causing death.
Fear and Resnover on Thursday remained in the Marion County Jail.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to reach out to Crime Stoppers at 317-262-8477.
IMPD also encouraged people to call the police and the Indiana Department of Child Services if they suspect child abuse. Child Services can be reached at 800-800-5556.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fall Creek Middle School in Lawrence is taking care of its own with a food pantry just for students to use over the weekend.
It’s a popular idea that has been picked up by several central Indiana school districts, but the “Paw Pantry” inside Fall Creek Valley (FCV) has been around since 2012.
Kim Duncan, the pantry’s coordinator and leadership teacher at FCV, tells News 8’s Brenna Donnelly the pantry was originally planned out and executed by students. They moved into an old science classroom, removed the Bunsen burners and beakers, and replaced them with canned veggies, boxes of ramen noodles and tubs of toiletries, to name a few.
The pantry is still staffed by students in her AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) who also hold fundraisers and food drives to keep shelves stocked. Those students don’t know which of their FCV classmates use the pantry, but they can see the shelves empty out at the end of the week.
“They come down, they get their backpack and they literally shop like it’s a grocery store,” Duncan explained.
Friday afternoons, Duncan and other administrators help about 30 students get the food they need for the weekend and tuck is discreetly into their backpacks.
“There are kids that leave school and don’t eat again until they come back to school,” said Duncan. “When you’re a middle school kid all you’re thinking about is when you’re going eat next. Food is like the number one thing at the top of the mind all the time and to not know if it’s going to be there at night is pretty detrimental.”
MSD Lawrence Township has 63 percent of students on a free or reduced school lunch. At FCV Middle, that percentage is 65 percent. Duncan says between 30 and 35 students use the pantry each Friday.
The volunteers stocking shelves this week were 8th graders happy to help.
“I decided to get involved because I just like helping out other people,” said Brandon Betanzos, 14. “I’m feeling happy because I know that this Friday other people will come in that are in need, to get the stuff that they need.”
“They don’t have to wait until they’re grownups to make a difference, they’re making a difference right now,” said Duncan, “and that’s huge.”
Paw Pantry staff operate a Go Fund Me account to help buy food, and toiletries. They also take donations of pantry food and winter coats. Duncan says students had raised enough money to buy a refrigerator and freezer and can now stock milk and other fresh foods.
MSD Lawrence Township has a similar pantry at both secondary schools and at Lawrence North and Lawrence Central High Schools. A recent pantry now open at Belzer Middle School uses an Amazon Wish List to request pantry items from community members.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Senate on Tuesday amended a hate crimes bill, leading Democrats to walk off the chamber’s floor and causing the governor to say, “We have a long way to go.”
An amendment, approved 33-16, removed specifically enumerated characteristics of protected classes from the bill and simply called for judges to issue enhanced sentencing for “bias.”
Republican Sen. Aaron Freeman, who represents southeast Marion County, authored the amendments that include the removal of page 19, which listed race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, nation origin, ancestry, sexual orientation and age as contributing reasons to commit a hate crime, and reasons to aggravate the sentence of the offender. Instead, the amendment added the word “bias” to cover groups of people targeted in hate crimes.
In his statements on the Senate floor, Freeman explained how his sister was excluded from extra credit in school because she missed class for Jewish holidays. He said he knows the effects of hate crimes but believes Indiana already has protections in place, citing the 2003 case of Whitmer vs. State of Indiana, where the Indiana Supreme Court ruled characteristics of the victim of a crime can support an enhanced sentence for the criminal.
“The Supreme Court has already given us the tool to use bias,” Freeman said, “but there are folks, certainly in corporate community and others, that don’t believe we have a bias crimes law. I think we do, but I think we also should make it clear to not only our citizens but to the folks in the country that we do.”
Sen. Greg Taylor challenged Sen. Freeman within seconds, saying specifically listing characteristics in legislation protects individuals.
“I just asked you a question Senator, as to why you took out race when you know the courts have used race to aggravate a sentence in Indiana. Why did you remove race from the bill?” he asked, speaking over Sen. Freeman’s protests.
The hearing became more heated with several senators taking the microphone to call for a removal of the amendment and a reinstatement of the original Senate Bill 12.
“We’ve done everything that’s possible I can think of including die,” Sen. Lonnie Randolph shouted at the microphone. “At the round of a noose. Shot. Gunned down, beat up. Talked about, criticized, disputed, spat on, everything, throughout history. What do we have to do? You tell me. I don’t know. I’m through.”
Democratic senators stood up and walked out of the chambers. The amendment passed with Republican support and within hours several groups had submitted statements of disapproval.
Governor Eric Holcomb issued a statement:
“The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it. I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year.”
A hate crimes law is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2019 agenda. Indiana is one of five states without a hate crimes law. The others are Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming.
WIBC reported that Senator J.D. Ford, an Indianapolis Democrat and the state’s first openly gay legislator, said, “This amendment is saying people like me don’t exist.”
David Sklar, co-chair of Indiana Forward representing major state employers, non-profits, faith-based groups, the Indy Chamber, the Indiana Competes coalition, colleges and universities, released the following statement.
“We are deeply disappointed in today’s actions. The amendment to Senate Bill 12 guts the legislation that passed the Senate Public Policy Committee by a vote of 9-1 yesterday after overwhelming testimony by the state’s most prominent business, education, civic and interfaith leaders.
“We will not let this be the finish line for Indiana’s bias crimes legislation. Poll after poll indicates overwhelming support of Hoosiers for a strong effective and specific piece of legislation that protects all Hoosiers.
“We stand with Governor Holcomb in his unwavering support of a comprehensive bias crimes law with an enumerated list of characteristics that include: race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, and age.
“The changes made today to this legislation do not position Indiana to be removed from the list without a bias crimes statute. Without a list of characteristics, Senate Bill 12 is not a true bias crimes law.”
The Democrats issued a statement after the amendment passed. That statement concluded, “The Indiana Senate as the upper chamber of the legislature did not do their job today. They passed the buck and we did not protect Hoosiers.”
In a statement by email, Sen. Freeman said:
“Today, the Senate accepted my amendment to Senate Bill 12, which I believe includes and covers all individuals. As it now stands, SB 12 specifies that a court could aggravate a person’s criminal sentence if bias is a factor in their crime.
Previously, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s existing sentencing law allows judges to aggravate a person’s criminal sentence based on a bias motive. My amendment would cement that concept into statute.
In the 2003 Witmer vs. State of Indiana ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court, the following was said:
… we have affirmed the notion that characteristics of the victims can support an enhanced sentence … and we say without hesitation that racially motivated crimes are intolerable and may constitute an aggravating circumstance.’
I stand by this notion and believe that with my amendment, this bill could be used by the courts to punish those who harm any individual because of a bias against their victim.”
On Monday, Senate Bill 12 received criticism and support before a committee advanced it to the full Senate for consideration. The measure passed out of the Senate Public Policy Committee with a vote of 9-1 and overwhelming bipartisan support.
The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it. 1/2— Eric Holcomb (@GovHolcomb) February 19, 2019
I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year. 2/2— Eric Holcomb (@GovHolcomb) February 19, 2019
Indiana had the chance to be a leader, to pass a meaningful bias crimes law, and to reverse some of the damage of RFRA ‘15…then one of Indy’s own Senators, @FreemanForIndy strips out all characteristics, making the bill useless.— Michael Huber (@michael_j_huber) February 19, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Several AMC Theaters in central Indiana want to give Hoosiers a chance to watch the movies nominated for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards.
The theater chain is hosting its Best Picture Showcase again this year, featuring seven of the eight nominees: Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, BlackKklansman, The Favourite, Vice, and Black Panther. Roma is nominated but not on AMC’s Showcase calendar.
Tickets are available to watch The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, and BlackKklansman Saturday, Feb. 16, then A Star is Born, Vice, Black Panther, and Green Book on Saturday, Feb 23.
If you’d like to watch all seven movies back to back to back, AMC offers a showcase all evening the night before the Oscars at select theaters on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Tickets this Saturday are $35, next Saturday are $40. Purchase them at AMC’s website.
Learn how the Best Picture is chosen each year from Indy Style’s Trevor Cox at this story.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said Tuesday it has suspended one of its priests from the ministry after a report of sexual abuse involving a minor in 2016.
The Rev. David J. Marcotte is prohibited from all public ministry. The abuse report about the 32-year-old priest was made Wednesday to the archdiocese’s victim assistance coordinator, a statement said.
The statement said “civil authorities” and the chair of the Archdiocesan Review Board were notified of the allegation. Local law enforcement officials have announced no criminal charges against Marcotte.
Marcotte was ordained June 7, 2014. He has worked with these ministries: 2014, associate pastor, SS. Francis and Clare Parish, Greenwood, and Catholic chaplain, University of Indianapolis; 2015, associate pastor, St. Malachy Parish, Brownsburg; 2016, administrator, St. Martin of Tours Parish, Martinsville; 2017, chaplain, Roncalli High School, Indianapolis; Catholic chaplain, University of Indianapolis; and sacramental assistance, SS. Francis and Clare Parish, Greenwood.
In 2018, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis suspended two more priests for sexual abuse allegations. Retired Priest John Maung came to light in August, and Father Patrick Doyle was the subject of credible accusations in September. Doyle later resigned.
The following statement is from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and is found at the bottom of the webpage detailing the suspension of Father Marcotte.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is committed to protecting children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse and misconduct. If you are a victim of sexual abuse or misconduct by a person ministering on behalf of the Church, or if you know of anyone who has been a victim, please contact civil authorities and the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator Carla Hill at 317-236-1548 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1548 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confidential reports can also be made on-line at www.archdioceseofindianapolis.ethicspoint.com or by calling 888-393-6810.
Update: As of Monday afternooon, Gloria Hardy has informed WISH-TV that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives have gotten in touch with her. They issued a news release says they are searching for a 2002-2009 Land Rover or Range Rover of an unknown color that left the scene of the hit-and-run. Detectives said the sport-utility vehicle may have damage to the front passenger side, including the headlight and possibly the hood.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The mother of a man killed on 82nd Street, south of the Castleton Mall, says she’s still waiting to talk to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department about her son’s death.
The accident was reported at 7:30 a.m. Thursday as a fatal hit-and-run. Around 4 p.m. the Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Dominic Mitchell, 24. Officers have not released information about a suspect or a suspect vehicle.
News 8 reached out to Mitchell’s mother, Gloria Hardy, and learned she has been trying to speak with detectives with at IMPD on her son’s case all weekend.
Hardy says her family is hurt and frustrated that IMPD has not provided them with a point of contact about their son’s case.
“They have not contacted us. We don’t know what they’re doing,” Hardy said. “[Officers] don’t know what I’m talking about when I call.”
She said an IMPD chaplain contacted her around 2 p.m. Thursday to positively identify the man as her son. Since then she says she’s tried to call and share information with an IMPD detective but is always told someone will contact her first.
“I want the public to know they’re not doing anything,” she said, saying News 8’s Brenna Donnelly was the first to ask Hardy about her son’s actions that morning. “My son didn’t belong in that area that morning. He wasn’t going to work. I need to talk to that detective.”
Hardy explained her son was a graduate of the Art Institute of Indianapolis and was attending Ivy Tech Community College. He had a dream of becoming a video game designer and was working in Keystone. She said she’s still waiting on IMPD’s call.
“I’m still going to keep trying to contact them,” Hardy said.
News 8 reached to IMPD about the complaint. An officer said the message would be sent to detectives.
As of Monday morning, Hardy said she still had not heard from IMPD.