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Indiana attorney general won't face groping charges

A special prosecutor tasked with investigating sexual misconduct allegations against Indiana Attorney Genera...

Posted: Oct 24, 2018 7:38 AM
Updated: Oct 24, 2018 7:38 AM

A special prosecutor tasked with investigating sexual misconduct allegations against Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said Tuesday that the women who accused Hill of inappropriate touching were credible -- but no charges will be filed against him.

Attorney Dan Sigler said his role was to investigate whether a crime had been committed, and not to investigate whether Hill's conduct was appropriate. A charge of battery requires proof that Hill's intent in the touching was "rude, insolent or angry," and Sigler wrote in the report he could not prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

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"There's two different paths or two different rails in this case that are tied together in the same fashion. The one is that somebody committed a crime ... the other rail is that a state official acted inappropriately and in a manner that he should not have," Sigler said.

"That's not my rail, that's not what I investigated. What I investigated was, did a crime occur there and could it be proven, and I decided there was no crime there that could be proven."

Hill still could face a civil lawsuit in the matter.

The investigation centered on a March gathering at an Indianapolis bar celebrating the end of the legislative session. Hill, a Republican, faced calls to resign after the June leak of a confidential memo outlining allegations of groping and inappropriate comments by Hill from several women who attended.

One woman, Indiana legislative staffer Niki DaSilva, told CNN that Hill inappropriately touched her at a bar and told her and her co-workers that they needed to "show a little skin" if they wanted to order a drink at the bar.

Hill has denied the claims, saying this summer, "I now stand falsely and publicly accused of abhorrent behavior. These false accusations have irretrievably damaged my reputation."

Witnesses deemed credible

Sigler interviewed 56 witnesses. He said the setting of the incidents -- they allegedly took place in the early morning hours at a bar with free alcohol being served -- caused problems in prosecution.

"Recollections being what they are, in a bar at 2:30 in the morning, we had a lot of various stories," he said.

Sigler said he did believe the four people who came forward to say they were inappropriately touched, calling them credible. Hill said during the investigation that the touches were not intended to be disrespectful, sexual in nature or rude, the report states.

"Hill, in his statement, did not deny certain touching occurred but stated that the touching was either incidental to conversation or movement in the crowded bar," Sigler wrote in the report.

Attorneys James Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer said the finding "exonerates and absolves Mr. Curtis Hill of any factual and legal criminal behavior," according to a statement.

In addition, the Indiana Inspector General Office's report on Hill describes the incidents in detail and with accounts from eyewitnesses.

"Multiple eyewitnesses provided statements that Hill's conduct was inappropriate, 'creepy,' unwelcome, and made many of the women at the party uncomfortable," Inspector General Lori Torres wrote in the report.

She said her office recommended criminal charges of felony sexual battery and misdemeanor battery, but the special prosecutor declined to file charges, which closes the investigation.

"The public and others will judge whether the evidence in this case disqualifies Hill from holding elected office in the future," Torres writes in the report.

Four women take steps to file lawsuit

The four women who claim they had inappropriate encounters with Hill at the bar last March have filed tort claim notices and charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Gabrielle McLemore, the communications director for the Indiana Senate Democrats, was one of the women who came forward with allegations.

"What has happened here today has told women that when we come forward, that when we share what happens to us, you know, we can be believed, but that doesn't really mean anything," she said.

"This is also a message that further actions like this cannot be tolerated, cannot continue to go on without consequences being given. We've put ourselves out there, our jobs and our reputations on the line just to be told that 'you know you're believed but there's nothing we can do,'" she said.

The other women who say they were assaulted by Hill are DaSilva; State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon; and Samantha Lozano, legislative assistant for the Indiana House Democrats.

The women have "taken initial steps to pursue civil claims against Attorney General Hill, the state of Indiana, and the Attorney General's Office," attorney Hannah Kaufman Joseph said.

"None of us really want to be here," Reardon said. Still, she said, she was "proud to stand with these brave women" as they "embark on this journey together to fight for the protection of individuals who deserve to feel safe at their workplace."

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