INDIANAPOLIS — More than 75 Hoosier women and men rallied Saturday outside the Statehouse demanding the resignation of embattled Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
Holding signs reading "Power Is Not Permission," "Time's Up" and "Elect Feminists Now," participants said they came together to show support for the four women allegedly groped by Hill at an Indianapolis bar March 15, including state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and to stand with the numerous state leaders who have called for Hill to leave office.
"Public servants and elected public officials of the state of Indiana should be held, and must be held, at a higher standard," said Kerry Hyatt Bennett, legal counsel at the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The Republican attorney general insisted Friday that he's done nothing wrong and will not resign.
Hill has requested the Marion County prosecutor investigate the incidents that allegedly occurred following the late night adjournment of the General Assembly's annual session.
At the rally, there was no question that it's Candelaria Reardon and the other women working for the Legislature, who came forward and told House and Senate officials they were unwillingly touched by Hill on their backs and buttocks, who should be believed.
"These brave women are my heroes," said Lael Wehner-Hill, chairwoman of the Indiana Victim Rights Coalition and no relation to the attorney general.
Wehner-Hill said she voted for Hill in 2016. But she no longer sees how Hill effectively can continue in office, and must resign.
"The attorney general is the person most centrally responsible for upholding our state laws and protecting the rights of our citizens," Wehner-Hill said.
"Working to advocate for crime victims' rights enforcement becomes increasingly difficult when the person charged with protecting crime victims is being credibly accused of victimizing multiple women."
Numerous rally speakers thanked Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and other state leaders of both political parties for believing the women and calling for Hill's resignation, in accordance with the state's "zero tolerance" harassment policy enacted earlier this year.
"Sexual harassment, coercion and assault should never be tolerated no matter who you are, no matter what office you hold, no matter what title you carry or no matter what authority you have," said Tracey Horth Krueger, CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.
Candelaria Reardon did not go to the event. Though state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, and state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, helped organize it and were in attendance.
Tallian said she wasn't disappointed by the relatively small crowd since the rally was put together in just two days during a week when many Hoosiers were on vacation or traveling due to the Independence Day holiday.
She's confident the rally's message still will reach Hill, and she hopes other women, who may have been groped by Hill in the past, also will come forward.
"This is what the 'Me Too' movement is about," Tallian said. "It's happened for too long that people were afraid, and now we've found people who aren't."
Lawson likewise encourages women to contact the Indiana inspector general's office, which has launched an investigation of Hill's behavior, if they've been on the receiving end of unwanted touching by Hill or other state leaders.
"We have to change the way we act toward women who have been through this. Men, too, by the way. Men too," Lawson said.
For his part, Hill is pushing back against the allegations using his campaign fund to purchase advertisements proclaiming his innocence on the social media websites Facebook and Twitter.
The ads feature a photo of Hill and the advisory: "The allegations against me are vicious and false. Don't believe them."
His office also is keeping up the appearance of normal operations by issuing a rare Saturday news release with Hill praising a judge's recent ruling that marijuana use at Indianapolis' "First Church of Cannabis" is not permitted under the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.