Indiana attorney general criticized over groping claims

By Brian Slodysko, Associated Press | Posted - Jul. 3, 2018 at 9:34 a.m.

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party on Tuesday called for Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign amid accusations made by four women of inappropriate touching.

Chairman John Zody said that the allegations against Hill, which were lodged by one lawmaker and three legislative staffers, are "beyond troubling and wildly inappropriate."

"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," Zody said. "Attorney General Hill should spare Hoosiers from this controversy and resign from office."

His Republican Party counterpart, meanwhile, says the GOP has "zero tolerance for sexual harassment." But Indiana GOP chairman Kyle Hupfer stopped short of calling for Hill's resignation.

Hill, a Republican, denied the allegations, calling them "deeply troubling." His office did not respond to questions on Tuesday about whether he planned to resign.

The Indianapolis Star on Monday was the first to report on a confidential eight-page memo detailing an investigation into the matter. The document, which was independently obtained by The Associated Press, was written by the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister at the request of Indiana legislative leaders.

It presents a picture of a highly intoxicated Hill who was carousing at an Indianapolis bar during the early morning hours of March 15, shortly after this year's legislative session came to a close.

The document, dated June 18, states that Hill's alleged conduct toward the legislative employees may have been "inappropriate," but was "likely not severe or pervasive enough to result in a hostile work environment." However, the firm found that Hill's conduct toward the lawmaker was "likely egregious enough to meet the threshold of 'severe.'"

The memo includes details from interviews conducted with six women who attended the end-of-session party.

The lawmaker said an intoxicated Hill put his hands on her back, slid them down her back, put them under her clothes and grabbed her buttocks, according to the memo. She told him to "back off" and walked away, but Hill approached her again later and again reached under her clothing and grabbed her. She again told him to "back off," according to the memo.

The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct or assault unless they come forward publicly.

Hill gave another staffer a two-minute backrub, which made her uncomfortable, the memo states. Another staffer said Hill put his arm around he and slid his hand down her back. When she tried to remove his hand, she said he groped her buttocks, the memo states.

Other staffers reported that Hill told them that in order to get better service at the bar they needed to show more knee and leg, the memo states.

Hill, a staunch social conservative who is married, called the allegations "vicious" and said there was a "fundamental lack of fairness to this entire process."

"At no time was my behavior inappropriate nor did I touch anyone in an inappropriate manner," Hill said in a statement. He also said he was never contacted by an investigator and that he hasn't "been informed of who made these allegations."

But legislative leaders said in a joint statement that the investigation was completed and "the matter has been addressed with the Attorney General to the satisfaction of the employees involved."

They declined further comment on Tuesday.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb did not directly address the allegations 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," Holcomb said. "I'll return to Indianapolis late tomorrow night. Until I've reviewed the facts in detail, I will have no further comment."

Hupfer, his hand-picked GOP party chairman, said he is "continuing to learn about the details of the investigation into allegations."

"It's important to be clear: As the Republican Party, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and that's the standard to which we all should adhere," Hupfer said. "Actions like these alleged have no place in public life or anywhere else."

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Brian Slodysko


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