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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill faced calls to resign Tuesday after a leaked internal legislative memo detailed allegations that the Republican inappropriately touched four women at an Indianapolis bar, including a lawmaker who said he groped her even after she told him to "back off."
In a statement, Hill lashed out, saying he has no plans to step down while calling an inquiry into the claims a "prejudicial investigation that is deeply troubling."
But three prominent Indiana Democrats, including Senate minority leader Tim Lanane and party Chairman John Zody, said the claims were credible and called on Hill to resign.
"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," said Lanane, of Anderson.
Democratic South Bend Rep. Ryan Dvorak, an attorney, said Hill's actions could merit criminal charges, noting claims that Hill groped a lawmaker even after she had rebuffed him appear "to meet the elements for sexual battery."
So far, no prominent Republicans have said Hill should resign. Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer said the GOP has "zero tolerance for sexual harassment," but he stopped short of calling on him to step down.
The Indianapolis Star on Monday was the first to report on the 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 during a party at a bar in 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'" under federal employment law.
The memo includes details from interviews conducted with six women who were at the end-of-session party.
The lawmaker said an intoxicated Hill slid his hands 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 again approached her, reached under her clothing and grabbed her, prompting her to again tell him to "back off," according to the memo.
Hill gave another staffer a two-minute backrub, which made her uncomfortable, the memo states. Another staffer said Hill put his arm around her and slid his hand down her back. When she tried to remove his hand, she said he groped her buttocks, the memo states.
Staffers also reported that Hill asked party-goers if they knew who he was, and suggested they would get better service at the bar if they showed more knee and leg, the memo states.
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct or assault unless they come forward publicly.
Hill, a staunch social conservative who is married, has been viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party. The former Elkhart County prosecutor, who is also an Elvis imitator, has visited the White House several times since President Donald Trump took office. In May, he warmed up the crowd at a rally Trump held in Hill's native Elkhart.
"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."
Legislative leaders said in a joint statement Monday that the investigation was completed and "the matter has been addressed with the attorney general to the satisfaction of the employees involved."
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and GOP Senate leader David Long declined further comment on Tuesday.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb also did not directly address the matter 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."
However, 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.
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