Judge dismisses women’s lawsuit accusing Curtis Hill of sexual harassment

Curtis Hill
Curtis Hill

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by four women who say Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill groped them during a legislative party in 2018.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said in part that because the women—a state lawmaker and three legislative staffers—didn’t work for Hill, they can’t sue the state of Indiana under federal laws meant to prevent workplace discrimination and retaliation. She wrote that the women could only bring claims against the governmental entity that employed them, which was not the Attorney General’s Office.

She dismissed several federal claims related to sexual harassment and retaliation and declined to accept jurisdiction over state law claims for battery, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy. She said the latter claims could be refiled in state court.

The allegations “describe disgraceful and reprehensible conduct,” Magnus-Stinson wrote. “But the highly offensive nature of the alleged acts does not meet the legal standard necessary to establish a violation of any federal law or the Constitution of the United States by Attorney General Curtis Hill.”

The women—state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and three legislative staffers, Niki DaSilva, Samantha Lozano and Gabrielle McLemore—filed the lawsuit last June. They say Hill touched their backs or buttocks during a party at an Indianapolis bar after the Legislature adjourned for the year in March 2018.

McLemore and Lozano were Democratic staffers at the time of the incident; DaSilva was a legislative assistant for the Indiana Senate Republican Caucus.

That made the women part of the legislative branch of government—and none of them employees of Hill, who is a separately elected part of the state’s administrative branch.

Hill has denied wrongdoing and rebuffed calls from Republican leaders to resign. A prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against Hill, and a state inspector general’s investigation found no wrongdoing.

But Hill is facing the suspension of his law license. A hearing officer presiding his discipline case has recommended that the Indiana Supreme Court require Hill to serve a two-month suspension without automatic reinstatement for violations of two professional conduct rules related to the allegations against him.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

12 thoughts on “Judge dismisses women’s lawsuit accusing Curtis Hill of sexual harassment

  1. So since the Evidence and Law has so many times indicated the accusers are without merit, their whole shirade needs to be dropped at once.

    Per the aforementioned, there is no legal standing to punish Hill and or suspend his law license.

    As the law stands at present Hill is an innocent man and still has my vote!

    1. Wrong, Darrell. Let’s start with the “Evidence and Law” having found no fault. The hearing officer (Myra Selby, a former Indiana SC justice) issued the recommendation that his law license should be suspended for 60 days – and without an automatic reinstatement. She didn’t do that on a whim. She listened to the evidence.

      IBJ article dated 2/14/2020 said: “She concluded Hill violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and (d) and committed Class B misdemeanor *battery* against four women–State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and legislative staffers Gabrielle McLemore Brock, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano. The rules violations are for a *criminal act* that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer and engaging in conduct is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

      Maybe you don’t mind the Attorney General playing a little grab-$ss when he’s drunk – hey, it’s only a misdemeanor – but I doubt you’d be cool with him doing that to your wife or daughter. The AG is the chief law enforcement official in the state, not some flunky.

      The ISC will decide if Selby correctly applied the standards of the legal profession’s code of ethics. The fact the prosecutor or the IG decided to not file charges isn’t conclusive that he didn’t do anything wrong.

      Last, I usually don’t point out spelling mistakes, but for someone who uses “aforementioned”, I’m going to call you out on “shirade” – try “charade”. I grant you that the “s” is pretty close to the “c” on the keyboard, but the “i” in nowhere near the “a”.

  2. Just because a male was inclined to make “apparently” unwanted advances to one or more women, it does not follow that he should be the object of their collective ire or legal actions, including any Suspension by the Indiana Supreme Court. Any disciplinary action should correctly be left to a public, verbal flogging by his “peers,” who are not otherwise guilty of or have been accused of the same or similar conduct. After all, written or common law concerning “male-female” interactions can hardly override more than almost four (4) million years of human evolution, and that includes religious and secular teachings (sorry Moses and Jesus).

    1. Good synopsis, Robert B. Thanks.

      And, Darrell W., he still has my vote, too. Curtis Hill Jr. is a decent man with whom I’ve conversed several times. Hill’s speech two weeks ago at South Bend’s Southlawn Cemetery at the interment of the 2,411 remains of babies aborted by “Dr” Klopfer was excellent.

    2. Robert B, it seems you are about as enlightened about male/ female interactions as the Neanderthals, but they’ve been extinct for only 40,000 years, so I’m off by a factor of 100. There’s nothing “apparent” about his (OMG) “unwanted advances”. As I mentioned to Darrell W., maybe you don’t mind the Attorney General playing a little grab-$ss when he’s drunk – hey, it’s only a misdemeanor – but I doubt you’d be cool with him doing that to your wife or daughter.

      And grabbing someone’s rear-end is not an “unwanted advance”. An unwanted advance is saying something like “Hey, I’m into you, how about we bounce this place?” Not assaulting them.

      And what the heck does your last sentence even mean? Laws that run against your animal instincts shouldn’t be observed? Um, that’s civilization for you.

    3. Yes let’s let his disciplinary penalties be for the public to decide. I think you and Curtis might be surprised with the results.

    4. Sherman T

      I’m curious, what is your position on President Trump’s behavior and the accusations against him ?