Indiana attorney general banned from work for 30 days over groping allegations

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Republican Curtis Hill will have his law license suspended temporarily after the state Supreme Court determined there was 'clear and convincing evidence' to support the allegations.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, a Republican, will have his law license suspended for 30 days and be unable do his job during that time, the state's highest court ruled on Monday, after he was accused of sexual assault by four different women.

The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously held that a disciplinary commission "proved by clear and convincing evidence that [Hill had] committed the criminal act of battery."

"At the conclusion of the 2018 Indiana legislative session, several legislators, lobbyists, and legislative staff attended an event at a local bar. [Hill] also attended this event at the invitation of a lobbyist with whom [he] had been dining and drinking that evening. While at the event, [Hill] engaged in acts against four women — a state representative and three legislative assistants — that involved various forms of nonconsensual and inappropriate touching," the court wrote.

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The four women — a Democratic state legislator, two Democratic staffers, and one Republican staffer — came forward in 2018 and alleged separate sexual assaults at the March reception. One of the women, State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D), told the Daily Beast last summer that, at that event, Hill allegedly "slid his hand onto my exposed back and down into my dress and grabbed my ass."

According to the outlet, "several" individuals later told investigators they had witnessed the incident.

The Republican staffer also claimed Hill groped her at the reception, telling the Daily Beast, "If I was in any other situation, I would have berated him. But this was the attorney general. I’m a staffer; that’s not my place."

After a special prosecutor found the accusations "credible" but opted not to bring charges, the women filed a civil suit last year.

A federal judge dismissed the suit two months ago.

A state disciplinary commission eventually launched a separate investigation, and, in February, a hearing officer determined Hill's conduct was "offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing." She recommended his license be suspended for two months.

The Supreme Court opted for 30 days.

Hill has consistently denied any wrongdoing. "I touched no one in a lewd manner. I touched no one in an insolent manner," he claimed at the disciplinary commission's October 2019 hearing. "I can't help what someone perceives."

In an emailed statement on Monday, Hill said that he accepted "with humility and respect the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling of a 30-day suspension of my license with automatic reinstatement." He noted that he has directed his chief deputy to "assume responsibility for the legal operations of this office during the temporary suspension of my license."

As Indiana's attorney general, Hill ordinarily serves as the state's "chief legal officer." According to the Associated Press, Indiana law "requires the attorney general to be 'duly licensed to practice law in Indiana,' but it doesn't specify whether the person can continue serving after facing professional disciplinary action."

As of Monday, Hill was still running for reelection. His campaign website features a video in which he brags of "continuing commitment to freedom and the rule of law."

Last August, Hill notably complained on Fox News that the state of California was not doing enough to hold people who broke the law accountable for their actions.

He referenced a quote from President Ronald Reagan, that reads, "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."

"That's one of my favorite quotes of all time, because it really speaks to the heart of the issue what it means to be an American," Hill said during the Fox News interview. "Accountability for your conduct."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.