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.