news 5 days ago

Women renew groping claims against Indiana attorney general

The Associated Press — By TOM DAVIES - Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The four women who say they were groped at a bar by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill have renewed their court challenges against him.

The women filed a lawsuit in Marion County court on July 7, claiming Hill committed battery against them during a March 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar and then defamed them with repeated claims that their allegations were false. Two days later, their attorneys filed their intention to appeal a federal judge’s decision dismissing a similar federal lawsuit filed last year.

Hill last month completed a 30-day suspension of his law license after the Indiana Supreme Court found “by clear and convincing evidence that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery” against the women.

Hill has denied the allegations, but they were a key campaign issue against him when this month he lost the Republican attorney general nomination for his reelection to former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita. His term runs through the end of the year.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled in March that the women’s lawsuit didn’t describe a violation of federal law despite depicting “disgraceful and reprehensible conduct.”

Geoffrey Giorgi, a Crown Point attorney representing Hill, said Tuesday that the county court in Indianapolis was the proper place for the lawsuit over what happened at the party marking the end of the 2018 legislative session.

“Curtis HiIl will have his first opportunity to fully address, challenge, and defend the allegations presented against him on the merits,” Giorgi said. “We anticipate raising all legal defenses to this ongoing pursuit of litigation in multiple forums by the plaintiffs.”

The new lawsuit filed by Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster and three female legislative staffers seeks unspecified monetary damages from Hill and his retraction of defamatory statements.

Lawyers for the women didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment Tuesday.

Reardon testified during an October attorney disciplinary hearing that Hill, smelling of alcohol and with glassy eyes, was holding a drink in his right hand and put his left hand on her shoulder, then slid his hand down her dress to clench her buttocks. “A squeeze, a firm grasp,” she said.

The female legislative staffers — ages 23 to 26 at the time — testified that Hill inappropriately touched their backs or buttocks and made unwelcome sexual comments during the party.

The federal appeals court in Chicago has not yet taken any action regarding the women’s appeal on their original lawsuit, which was filed after a special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against Hill.