Bosma, Long recall conversations with Hill about sexual misconduct allegations

It was May 14, 2018, when the Indiana Legislature had reconvened for a one-day special session. House Speaker Brian Bosma appeared suddenly in the Senate and asked to speak with then-Senate President Pro Tempore David Long.

In Long’s office, Bosma said he had something to tell him. Long stopped him and asked: “Is it Curtis Hill?”

Bosma’s message did indeed involve Attorney General Curtis Hill, and what happened next laid the groundwork for this week’s evidentiary hearing in Hill’s attorney discipline case. The legislative leaders recounted the events that occurred from May to July 2018 during Tuesday afternoon testimony.

Testimony given earlier on Monday and Tuesday provided the relevant background to Bosma and Long’s testimony. State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and current and former legislative staffers Gabrielle McLemore Brock, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano, along with other staffers working in and around the General Assembly, testified that Hill groped and/or touched the four women without their consent during a March 2018 legislative party at A.J.’s Lounge, 1118 S. Meridian St.

Bosma and Long, who has since retired from the Senate, didn’t learn of the allegations until May 14, when Reardon held a meeting with Bosma and other legislative leaders. Meanwhile in the Senate, Sen. Ryan Mishler, for whom DaSilva worked, reported the allegations to Long.

Bosma said he was thinking as a staff manager, while Long was thinking like an employment lawyer. Long suggested that the Legislature begin an investigation into the allegations, and the Legislative Services Agency was instructed to hire an outside law firm to review the Legislature’s work. LSA executive director George Angelone selected Taft Stettinius & Hollister to serve in the outside counsel role.

The four legislative leaders—Bosma, Long and Democratic leaders Rep. Terry Goodin and Sen. Tim Lanane—planned to reconvene on July 2, when they would confront Hill in person. But, on June 29, while Bosma was traveling through Europe, he learned The Indianapolis Star was working on an article about the sexual misconduct investigation.

Bosma testified that he felt the legislative leaders had a duty to tell Hill about their internal investigation before he learned about it via the media. So, while Bosma was in Berlin and Long and Hill were traveling through the western United States, the three had a conference call where the allegations against Hill, though not the identities of his accusers, were laid out.

Bosma said he played bad cop to Long’s good cop. It was Bosma who walked Hill through the allegations, and it was Bosma who delivered the Legislature’s conclusions: that Hill’s conduct was unacceptable and wouldn’t be tolerated, that Hill should stay away from legislative receptions, and that if he learned who his accusers were, he should not contact them.

Hill was then given an opportunity to share final thoughts, and Bosma and Long’s testimony about his response matched. Speaking on the stand, they said Hill admitted multiple times to having too much to drink, then said he was troubled by the allegations and, if he had unintentionally offended anyone that night, he was sorry.

But three days later, the tides began to turn.

By July 2, 2018, Bosma and Long learned that a confidential memorandum prepared by Taft had been released to the media. The four leaders, along with staffers, sat down with Hill as planned that day, and the AG was joined by chief deputy Aaron Negangard.

The memo was leaked, Hill was told, though he couldn’t have a copy—the leaders believed it was still a confidential attorney-client communication, despite its unintended release. Either Hill or Negangard pointed out that Hill had not been interviewed, but that had been the point of the July 2 meeting, the leaders said.

Though Hill had initially been apologetic on June 29, Bosma and Long said he was in defense mode by July 2. Hill told them he intended to defend himself, and he would have to attack their investigation.

During this meeting, Long said Hill admitted to having heard about some of his conduct on March 15. Specifically, Hill said he’d been told that he told some women to “show a little skin” to get their drinks faster. Those comments have been included as part of DaSilva’s narrative.

“He knows about this,” Long said Tuesday, recalling his thoughts from the 2018 meeting. Until that meeting, the former senator said he’d never heard about that remark.

Bosma said repeatedly during his testimony that he considers Hill a friend, though he always qualified those statements by saying he was not sure Hill felt the same. But at the end of the July 2 meeting, the two men shook hands and shared a hug, and Bosma said he was sorry Hill had to go through the situation. In response, Hill said, “We’ll get through all this.”

Bosma, along with Long and several other state leaders from both parties, subsequently called for Hill’s resignation.

Bosma and Long’s testimony closely aligned, with both men saying that, before the leak, the four women were “satisfied” with the results of the investigation and the June 29 phone call. Reardon hoped more could have been done, Bosma said, but she was nonetheless satisfied with what had occurred.

Bosma even said the women he spoke with were smiling when they met after the June 29 call. He said Democrats had believed Republican leadership would ignore the allegations and take no action, so the women were pleased something had been done.

In his testimony, Long said he did not believe the women had motive to make up their stories. Instead, he said the Senate employees, DaSilva and Brock, were scared about the incident leaving a black mark on their careers. Lozano gave similar testimony on Monday.

Thus, when the memo was leaked, Long said he apologized to DaSilva and Brock. Likewise, Bosma said that while he was sorry for Hill’s situation, he was more concerned about the legislative employees.

An “investigation” into the leak was begun, and Long testified Tuesday that he was “confident” the leak had not come from the Senate. During Brock’s testimony on Monday, the attorneys stipulated that the leak had come from the House Democrats Communications Office, and the source had apologized to Brock.

Another issue that came up during defense attorney Jim Voyles’ cross-examination was whether any of the legislative leaders or attorneys had an ethical duty to report Hill’s conduct to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Both Bosma and Long said the Taft memo determined they did not have such a duty.

However, calling that a “gratuitous” determination, Long said the purpose of the Taft report was not to address attorney ethical duties. Rather, he said, Taft was tasked with reviewing the investigation to ensure the Legislature properly responded to the women’s reports in a manner that protected the accusers and taxpayers.

Earlier on Tuesday, fellow partygoers testified that as he made his way around a bar the night he is accused of inappropriate conduct. Nine people who attended the party testified Tuesday.

Hill disputes the women’s claims, and his lawyers are questioning whether his actions were misinterpreted during a party where alcohol was flowing along with loud music and conversation.

Most of those attending the annual unofficial gathering at were state legislators, legislative staff members or lobbyists, according to testimony from partygoers. Those testifying Tuesday said it was unusual to see a statewide elected official such as Hill at the party and that he soon drew attention to himself.

Dawna Smith, a longtime state Senate Republican staff member, said she saw Hill at the party soon after she and co-workers arrived about 1 a.m. and that he appeared very intoxicated.

“He was kind of swaying and his eyes were half closed,” Smith said. “He wasn’t very stable, physically.”

Smith said she saw Hill stand up perhaps five times from a barstool and rub his body up against women who were passing by him. Smith testified she later saw Hill rubbing Reardon down her open-back dress as the Democratic legislator recounted on Monday.

Several witnesses recalled seeing Hill dancing suggestively with a female lobbyist when no one else was dancing.

Laura McCaffery, a lobbyist who attended the party, said Hill’s shirt was unbuttoned, exposing part of his chest, and that he put his arms around her and a friend.

“It felt kind of creepy,” she said. “We didn’t know him, and he was kind of touchy.”

Hill, 58, is expected to testify later in the week. He has denied wrongdoing and resisted calls from GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state government leaders for his resignation. Hill’s attorneys argue that he didn’t do anything improper as a lawyer and shouldn’t face law license sanctions because he was cleared by a special prosecutor.

Reardon and the other staffers—ages 23 to 26 at the time of the party—have filed a federal lawsuit against Hill alleging sexual harassment and defamation. A special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against Hill, and a state inspector general’s report determined Hill didn’t break any state ethics rules.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby is presiding at the hearing that could last through Friday. She will later issue a report to the state Supreme Court, which could take actions include dismissing the complaint, a reprimand and temporary suspension or permanently removal of Hill’s law license.

Recent disciplinary case filings by Hill include admissions that he drank three glasses of wine, a martini and a shot of whiskey over several hours the night of the party.

Hill’s lawyers wrote that he interacted with dozens of people during the party. They said Hill “has an engaging personality and often physically interacts with others by placing a hand on the other person’s arm, shoulder or back. He also has some difficulty hearing in one ear, so he is prone to leaning close to people with whom he is conversing, especially in loud environments.”

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2 thoughts on “Bosma, Long recall conversations with Hill about sexual misconduct allegations

    1. Would you feel better about it Tom if it were a democrat? I do not like that kind of behavior either but both parties have principled, good leaders and some bad apples. It is not right to paint them all as sleazy types.