INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Curtis Hill insisted Friday that he's been falsely accused of sexual misconduct, and demanded the Marion County prosecutor conduct an independent investigation that Hill is confident will clear his name.
In a written statement, the Republican said he's not quitting as the state's chief law enforcement officer, notwithstanding calls for his resignation by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, among others.
"The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately," Hill said. "The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty."
Hill is accused by state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, of drunkenly putting his hands on her back, sliding them to her buttocks and grabbing them without her consent, she said in her account of the incident published in The Times.
My name is Mara Candelaria Reardon.
He also reportedly touched or rubbed the backs of three additional legislative employees, of both political parties, at the same Indianapolis bar following the March 15 adjournment of the General Assembly's annual session, according to a report compiled by an outside law firm for the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres announced Friday that she plans to conduct an investigation into the allegations against Hill, following requests by Republican and Democratic state officials.
However, Hill said Torres cannot be trusted to do a fair and independent investigation because she was appointed by Holcomb, who Hill said "has already determined the outcome of the investigation."
"This fundamental lack of fairness and due process regarding this prejudicial so-called 'investigation' is in violation of the principles on which this country was founded," Hill said.
"Without a thorough investigation — without the right to face my accusers and review the evidence against me — I am convicted by public officials demanding my resignation. I believe that the standard in this country is that you are innocent until proven guilty — not guilty until proven innocent."
To that end, Hill called on Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, a Democrat, to review the allegations through the legal system "where my constitutional rights are respected and protected."
"Once the investigation is complete and I am exonerated, I would hope that my good name is properly restored with the same vigor with which it has been tarnished," Hill said.
Neither Candelaria Reardon, nor any of the other Hill accusers, have filed a police report.
The Munster representative said Tuesday that she has no intention of doing so, even though she describes herself in a guest column as "a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill."
Peg McLeish, spokeswoman for the Marion County prosecutor's office, said Prosecutor Curry only learned from media reports that Hill is asking him to investigate the incidents that allegedly occurred at AJ's Lounge in downtown Indianapolis.
"We will review this new information to determine the appropriate next step," McLeish said.
More calls for Hill's resignation
Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor, secretary of state and state treasurer on Friday joined the governor and the Indiana House and Senate leaders, Republicans all, in calling for Hill to immediately give up his office.
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said she concurred with Holcomb's demand for the attorney general to resign due to Hill's apparent violation of state government's "zero tolerance" harassment policy.
"Sexual harassment should never be tolerated," Crouch said.
Writing from an Arizona vacation site, Secretary of State Connie Lawson condemned Hill's alleged behavior and said Indiana state employees deserve a safe working environment in the Statehouse and beyond.
"I am disappointed that I must make such a call, but Attorney General Hill should resign," Lawson said. "Our state leaders are held to a higher standard and must behave in such a manner."
State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, a Valparaiso University graduate, said she supports the calls for Hill to resign from her fellow executive and legislative branch leaders.
"Sexual harassment/misconduct of any kind will not and should not be tolerated in Indiana," Mitchell said. "No person should feel unsure or afraid of their right to report any behavior they feel crosses the line."
Across the aisle, House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, said simply: "It's time."
"It's in the hands of our attorney general to live up to his charge as our state’s chief law enforcement officer and do what's right. Quit," Goodin said.
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, composed of all Democrats, also agreed the allegations against Hill, who is the only black statewide elected official, warrant his resignation.
"This is the top law enforcement official in our state, and we cannot have someone in that position whom people cannot trust," said state Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, caucus chairwoman.
"There is only one clear course of action here. The attorney general must do the right thing for himself and the women involved. He must apologize for his conduct, and resign his office. No other outcome is acceptable."
That message is poised to be amplified Saturday during a "Rally to Support Victims of Curtis Hill" at the Statehouse, organized in part by state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.
Candelaria Reardon is not scheduled to attend. But participants will hear from Lael Wehner-Hill, a victim advocate and chairwoman of the Indiana Victims Rights Coalition; as well Kerry Hyatt Blomquist and Tracey Horth Krueger, both of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.
"We're going to draw attention to sexual assault and what it means to females and what it means to men," Lawson said. "And also ask for Hill's resignation."
Lawson said she's been pleasantly surprised that Republican Statehouse leaders recognize the seriousness of the incidents. She also hopes Reardon, and others impacted by sexual assault, will see through the rally that they're not alone.
"She thought she was out there on a limb, and then all of a sudden she's got this tremendous support," Lawson said. "I told her, 'I don't think you understand how much support you've got.'"
The rally is set for 2 p.m. Indianapolis time on the east steps of the Statehouse.