A second woman came forward Friday to say she was the subject of unwanted touching from Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for the Indiana Senate Democrats, said Hill began rubbing her back at an Indianapolis bar where she gathered with colleagues March 15 to celebrate the end of the annual Indiana General Assembly.
McLemore described the touching as an “unwanted, slow, sexual rub on the back.” Her written account of the incident appears below.
Hill is under fire from state officials after a lawmaker and three other women said he groped them at the bar that night.
Earlier Friday, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, said Hill approached her the same night and grabbed her buttocks.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, Senate Pro Tem David Long and other GOP office holders, including Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, have called on Hill to step down.
Hill has denied the allegations and said he would not quit.
“I am not resigning,” he said Friday in a written statement. “The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately. The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty.”
Following is McLemore’s complete unedited account:
I had just completed a 16-plus-hour work day at the Statehouse, where I was following legislation closely, writing press releases, updating multiple social media accounts and generally running up and down stairs to and from the Senate Chambers, in heels, all day long.
It was the last day of the 2018 session, the caucus I work for had, at that point, successfully defeated a bill we had fought for months and I, along with nearly every one of my colleagues, was ready to celebrate a job well done.
I showed up at a bar with my office mates, and I was surrounded by people who had just gone through the same few months as I had. We were exhilarated and exhausted, and we had every reason to celebrate.
When I was approached halfway through the evening by a certain elected official, I had no idea that my celebration would turn into what it ultimately did.
“Do you know who I am?”
That’s what he said when he pulled a stool up next to me and forced me to move uncomfortably closer to the bar’s ledge on my right with people both in front and behind me. I was cornered by Indiana's attorney general, who I had never previously met, and he began rubbing my back. I couldn’t hear a single word he said after that as the following thoughts buzzed through my head:
What will people think if they see this interaction? Will they think I beckoned him over? Will they make quick judgments that I was flirting with him? Would they assume I enjoyed the attention?
Let me be clear: These are not what any person should have to think about when another individual breaks their personal boundary and decides it’s okay to touch them without permission. But they’re the only thoughts I had. I was trapped both physically and mentally by the state’s highest law enforcement official.
And here’s the kicker: There were many men that surrounded me that night. Both men I knew well and men I didn’t. And do you know who helped remove me from that awful situation?
My college-aged female intern.
She’s one of the few heroes of this story. I mouthed “HELP ME” across the circle of people I was sitting with, and she immediately made an exit plan for me, suggesting I leave to “go to the bathroom” with her. If it weren’t for her, who knows how long I would have felt trapped there. Helpless. Awkward. And shaming myself, of all people. That was pretty much the end of the night for me, and I tried not to think about what happened for a long time after that. That was until the investigation and the leaked memo, which I didn’t see until the newspapers had posted the full report.
Now, a lot has occurred since the early hours of March 15, but you already know all of that. And in the wake of this story becoming public, many people have been doing a lot of talking, and I have yet to be one of them.
I want to first say that throughout the investigation — that I did not request but was offered — I did not have a single defined motive. I didn’t need Hill to resign. I didn’t need him to have a public slogging. I was going through the motions deciding day by day what was best for me. I just wanted to put my story on record, anonymously, in case it ever came up to bite me in the ass.
Yes, you read that right and, again, this is backward thinking. But I promise you: This is how many women feel in these situations. And there is little to no precedent set where victims of harassment don’t lose something beyond the incident that occurred. Privacy, confidence, reputation, workplace status and respect from peers — it all becomes affected because of something that was completely out of our control.
I’m going to share something here that only a few select close people in my life know: In college I was sexually assaulted to the full extent by a drunk man, and I didn’t do a damn thing about it. I felt that it was useless to say anything and that it would only make the pain I felt more amplified if I were to pursue any kind of recourse for his actions.
While an unwanted, slow, sexual rub on the back is nowhere near as traumatizing as the rape I experienced only a few years ago, sexual abuse is sexual abuse no matter the degree. And the process of healing from these instances takes years, if full healing ever comes at all.
I’ve seen speculations of whether the victims felt empowered to come forward due to the #MeToo movement, and I will answer your curiosity here: Yes. I did. Four years ago when I bawled my eyes out for a week, I did not feel that kind of empowerment and even now it’s a struggle. But we’re making progress, and I need to let every woman who has spoken up before me to know that I am so deeply appreciative of their bravery, and I couldn’t be writing this without each and every one of you. This includes Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon.
I am in awe of her bravery, and I am deeply sorry for the abuse she was subjected to that same evening. And even more, I am so sorry for every single act of unwanted sexual contact or verbal abuse every woman has received. Each of us know that this doesn’t happen once in a lifetime at a random party. This stuff happens to us every day. To the point where we become numb to it and we no longer think that what happened was all that wrong. Fellow women: Every bit of sexual harassment you have received in your lives is wrong.
We should not have to deal with this, and people like Curtis Hill should not be allowed to continue to get away with it. I will no longer be silent.