Indiana attorney general sued over groping allegations

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Four women who say Indiana's attorney general drunkenly groped them during a party last year are preparing to file a civil lawsuit against him.

The women and their lawyers announced the lawsuit against Republican state Attorney General Curtis Hill and the state of Indiana during a Tuesday news conference. The women's lawyers said in October that they intended to sue Hill after a special prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges against him.

The women said they were asserting claims under federal law including sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and under state law claims for battery, defamation and invasion of privacy.

Hill is accused of touching the backs or buttocks of state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and three legislative staffers, Niki DaSilva, Samantha Lozano, Gabrielle McLemore, in March 2018 at an Indianapolis bar. McLemore and Lozano were Democratic staffers at the time of the incident, but DaSilva was a legislative assistant for the Indiana Senate Republican Caucus.

Attorneys with Katz Korin Cunningham, who are representing the four women, told media on Tuesday morning that they have filed a tort claim notice with the state of Indiana and charges of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as legally required before taking the civil action they are considering.

“We have patiently followed procedures and policies from Day 1, hoping that we could trust this situation to be handled appropriately”, said Candelaria Reardon in a written statement. “Even though our claims have been found credible by our state leaders, including Gov. Holcomb, and independent investigators, words will not be enough to protect us or future victims.”

Hill has denied wrongdoing and rebuffed calls from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to resign.

He faces an October hearing on possible sanctions from the state Supreme court, which could include up to disbarment as an attorney.

“It has become apparent that in Indiana, and across the country, government staff, lawmakers, constitutional officeholders, and lobbyists are not adequately protected from unlawful gender discrimination and retaliation in the workplace,” McLemore said in a written comment. “Ultimately, we’re trying to help the Indiana Statehouse become a safer place to work regardless of title, role, experience or authority.”

Hill also faces an October disciplinary commission hearing on possible sanctions from the state Supreme court, which could include up to disbarment as an attorney. Hill has proclaimed his innocence.

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