Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby has recommended that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill be suspended for 60 days for groping four women at a party marking the end of the 2018 legislative session and then engaging in a campaign against them.
Selby said Hill’s conduct at the March 2018 gathering at a downtown Indianapolis bar “was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women.
“As attorney general, he used his state office staff and other to engage in a public campaign to defend himself and intimidate the complainants,” she wrote in the 36-page report for Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which was filed Friday afternoon.
As the hearing officer, Selby listened to four days of testimony in October where the women — state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and three legislative assistants, Samantha Lozano, Gabrielle McLemore and Niki DaSilva — described in detail how Hill groped them at the gathering.
Hill has maintained that he did nothing wrong at the end-of-session party. He could not be reached to comment on the hearing officer’s report on Friday evening. He was not criminally charged in connection with the incident.
Attorneys for the disciplinary commission and Hill will have 30 days to file a petition or a brief to review the recommendations.
If one party files a brief, the other side will have 30 days to respond with the original party having another 15 days to answer. The final decision on sanctions rests with the five justices of the state Supreme Court.
In her report, Selby described testimony detailing how Hill launched a campaign to defend himself and attempted to portray the accusations as being politically motivated.
She noted that as details of the allegations against Hill unfolded he gathered a group of employees from his office, paid consultants and other supporters to coordinate a campaign to discredit the women.
“This campaign used incendiary language that attempted to cast doubt not only on the four women’s allegations but on their motivations for making the allegations,” she wrote. “The evidence also establishes that at no point during this campaign did Respondent (Hill) urge his team to exercise caution or show respect toward the women, nor did he express concern about any potential impact his response may have on them.”
Selby dismissed Hill’s defense that while he was at the party he was attending as an individual and not as the attorney general. She wrote that “he responded to the allegations in his capacity as the Attorney General. He involved the Office of the Indiana Attorney General employees, website, and Twitter account in his defense.”
In recommending a 60-day suspension of his license, Selby said that the attorney general’s position is an executive branch equivalent of a judicial officer.
“The Indiana Attorney General holds a position of public trust and engages in work that has a wide impact across the state,” she wrote. “The conduct of the Indiana Attorney General can affect the public’s perception of our state’s executive branch.”
Selby said she found clear and convincing evidence that Hill violated the rules of professional conduct and recommended the 60-day suspension without automatic reinstatement.
Hill announced in November that he will seek a second term. He faces a challenge from Adam Krupp, the former commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue, and Zionsville attorney John Westercamp. The nominee will be decided at the state Republican convention in June.
Hill has dismissed calls for him to step down by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and the GOP’s top legislative leaders.
Janet Williams is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.