CHICAGO (CBS)–A democratic lawmaker in Indiana and a senate staff member have accused Attorney General Curtis Hill of “sexual battery,” but he’s refusing to step down.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon described an uncomfortable encounter with Hill in detail in this editorial published the the Indy Star on Friday. A second woman came forward a few hours later, making similar accusations alleging Hill touched her back during an event marking the end of the legislative session last March.
Describing Hill’s touch as “an unwanted, slow, sexual rub on the back,” senate democratic communications director Gabrielle McLemore said Hill made her uncomfortable at the same gathering Rep. Calendaria Reardon says she was attending when she was allegedly groped by Hill.
In Candelaria’s letter to the Indy Star, she says Hill “leaned toward me as if he could not hear me and placed his hand on my back and slid his hand down to my buttocks and grabbed it. I said ‘back off,’ and walked away, as the staffer with me stood shocked,” she wrote, adding that she doesn’t personally know Hill.
According to her account of the night’s events, Hill returned again later in the evening and put his hand on her back again and said, “That skin. That back.” She said she recoiled away from his advances before he could move his hand any lower.
Hill vehemently denied the allegations on Twitter Friday afternoon, where he released a statement refusing to resign. He called on the Inspector General to conduct a “fair and independent investigation.”
“I now stand falsely accused of some of the same crimes I spent 28 years prosecuting,” Hill said in the statement.” At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately.”
He added, “The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty.”
In her editorial, Candelaria Reardon relays that she had planned to address what happened directly with Hill, until she learned she wasn’t the only one who felt uncomfortable in his presence the night of March 15.
During lunch with another legislator and a staffer a few weeks later after the event, the staffer–presumed to be McLemore–revealed that Hill groped at least four other women that night–herself included.
“I realized that this was bigger than me, and I had an obligation to report it to our House leadership, to protect these women and any others, from Curtis Hill’s deviant conduct,” she says. “These young women came to Indianapolis to be mentored and taught professional conduct, not to be assaulted.”
She reported Hill to leaders in the legislature and wrote that she appreciated the earnestness with which republican and democratic leaders launched their investigation. She, like others, is calling for his resignation.
“As I continue to deal with the harm perpetrated by Indiana’s top law enforcement official, I must also deal with the reality that there is no process by which Curtis Hill, an independently elected official can be held accountable. No censure. No recall. Not even a slap on the hand,” she wrote.
Indiana’s inspector general has opened an investigation into Hill’s conduct.
The Chairman of Indiana’s Democratic Party, John Zody, has joined Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in calling for Hill’s resignation.
“Statehouse Republicans were right to echo the call for Attorney General Hill to resign amid the allegations uncovered this week,” Zody said in a statement issued Thursday. “We will continue to stand with those who had the courage to come forward while, in the meantime, it seems Hoosiers will also continue to wait for Curtis Hill to do the right thing.”
Some Indiana residents are planning to march on Saturday in support of Hill’s accusers.