INDIANAPOLIS — Another woman allegedly groped by Attorney General Curtis Hill at a late-night bar party following the March 15 adjournment of the Indiana General Assembly's annual session is publicly telling her story to counter Hill's claims of a "witch hunt."
Niki DaSilva, a Republican Senate legislative assistant, wrote Thursday on an Indianapolis newspaper website about her encounter with the state's Republican chief law enforcement officer that is similar to the unwelcome touching and flirting previously detailed by state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and Gabrielle McLemore, Senate Democratic communications director.
According to DaSilva, Hill approached her and three co-workers while they were waiting to get served at the bar. He said to them, without hesitation, "Ah, come on ladies! You haven't figured out how to get a drink yet? You’ve got to show a little skin!"
DaSilva said she was "stunned" to hear those words come from the attorney general, with whom she never previously had spoken, and doubled-checked with her colleagues that she heard Hill correctly.
"Slightly irritated but not wanting to cause a fuss, I moved around the corner of the bar top in order to put some distance between myself and the hovering attorney general," DaSilva said.
A few minutes later, Hill again approached DaSilva and put his hand on her back, according to her account. When he started to slide his hand slowly down toward her buttocks, DaSilva said she attempted to push Hill's hand away.
"When our hands met, instead of taking this nudge as a cue to remove his hand from my lower back, he grabbed my hand and moved both of our hands over my butt, lingering there before releasing me," DaSilva said.
"He looked at me with a grin on his face."
DaSilva said she was "ashamed and frustrated" by the encounter: "How could a man that did not even know my name feel like it was appropriate to put his hands on my back — or anywhere else on my body for that matter?"
At the same time, she doubted Hill would be held accountable, given his powerful position.
DaSilva said she ultimately decided to report the incident to Senate leaders after Candelaria Reardon, who likewise claims Hill touched her back and buttocks that night without permission, notified House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, on May 14.
"This was the first time I felt like anyone was taking this seriously, and it was the first time I realized that it had not happened only to me," DaSilva said.
"He had been doing these things to multiple women throughout the night."
DaSilva said she chose to publicly identify herself now because Hill continues to deny anything improper happened, as well as to assure Hoosiers that the women groped by Hill are not part of a partisan "witch hunt."
"The inappropriate and inexcusable behaviors exhibited by Attorney General Hill were experienced by multiple women of both political parties, from both chambers and in varying positions within the Legislature," DaSilva said.
"Individually, our stories may cause doubt in some minds. However, when these stories are weaved together they stand as a strong testament to a deliberate pattern of unacceptable behavior."
DaSilva did not call on Hill to resign as Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Bosma, Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and a bipartisan host of other state officials have.
Instead, DaSilva said she welcomes the investigation by Inspector General Lori Torres that potentially could lead to criminal charges being filed against the attorney general.
In a statement, Candelaria Reardon praised both DaSilva and McLemore for coming forward and telling their stories, just as Candelaria Reardon did Sunday in The Times.
"I am very proud of these brave young women that have found their voice to stand up and declare that power is not consent," Candelaria Reardon said.
Hill responded in a written statement that DaSilva's account cannot be trusted because he claims she shared it with a friend prior to publication and asked for help identifying "any grammatical errors or phrases that need to be changed/strengthened/eliminated."
"The various stories appear to be coordinated and changed under the direction of others," Hill said.
Hill has denied engaging in sexual misconduct at the bar, declared he will not resign his office and complained that his name and reputation have been "dragged through the gutter."
To combat that, the attorney general has been using his campaign funds to purchase online advertisements that advise Hoosiers not to believe the women making allegations against him.