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Mara Candelaria Reardon

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, identified herself Friday as the Hoosier lawmaker who allegedly was groped by Attorney General Curtis Hill at a downtown Indianapolis bar following the adjournment of the 2018 General Assembly.

She writes in a guest column now online at nwi.com, and due to be published Sunday in The Times, that she is "a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill."

In the column, Candelaria Reardon describes in detail her encounter with the state's chief law enforcement officer at AJ's Lounge in the early morning hours of March 15.

She said she initially was surprised in seeing Hill at the Legislature's "sine die" party, because during her 12 years in state government she's never known any other attorney general to attend the annual, late-night end-of-session gathering.

As they exchanged pleasantries, "Curtis 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," Candelaria Reardon said. "I said 'back off,' and walked away, as the staffer with me stood shocked."

"Later in the evening, I was standing with a group of people, and he approached the group. Hill came up behind me and put his hand on my back again and said 'That skin. That back.' I recoiled away before he could touch my buttocks again."

Candelaria Reardon said she initially planned to talk over the incident personally with Hill.

"To me, he was not the attorney general, or a married man, or a religious man or a Republican," she said. "He was the man who put his hand on my skin and my buttocks, and I felt I needed to address it face to face."

But when she later was told by a legislative staffer that Hill allegedly groped four more Statehouse employees that night, Candelaria Reardon said: "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."

"These young women came to Indianapolis to be mentored and taught professional conduct, not to be assaulted. ... I speak out now to support the other victims of Attorney General Curtis Hill, who have not yet found their voice."

One of them, Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for Indiana Senate Democrats, came forward publicly with her story Friday after Candelaria Reardon told hers.

McLemore said in the Indianapolis Star that she was cornered by Hill, who she never had met, when he pulled up a chair close to her at a crowded bar and began rubbing her back without her permission.

She eventually escaped when her college-aged female intern suggested they go to the bathroom together.

Hill has denied any wrongdoing. He said: "The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately."

Candelaria Reardon said she appreciates the earnestness with which Republican and Democratic legislative leaders investigated the incident following her report, conducting six independent interviews and hiring an outside law firm to compile a legal analysis.

At the same time, Candelaria Reardon said she has come to understand there is no process by which Hill, as an independently elected executive branch official, can easily be held accountable for his actions.

"No censure. No recall. Not even a slap on the hand," she said. "I call upon our Statehouse leaders to protect not only the young adult public servants, but state employees, and to create a method whereby deviant behavior is held accountable, no matter the perpetrator’s title."

In the meantime, she encourages "all Hoosiers of good will" to demand that Hill resign his office.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.