Attorney General Curtis Hill’s disciplinary hearing on accusations that he groped women at an end-of-session legislative party in 2018 has been tentatively scheduled for October.
Hill, a first-term Republican, is facing the potential loss of his license to practice law following a complaint to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.
On Wednesday, former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, who has been appointed to preside over the case, met with attorneys for the disciplinary commission and Hill’s attorneys to set deadlines for pre-hearing details and to schedule the hearing. Hill was not present.
Hill’s private attorneys, James Voyles and Angie Mahone, with co-counsel Don Lundberg on the phone, and the disciplinary commission attorneys, Seth Pruden and Angie Ordway, told Selby they expected the hearing would last five days. The biggest reason for the length: the potential number of witnesses. Some 56 were interviewed in previous investigations of the incident, and Voyles said Wednesday he expected to call from 18 to 25.
Selby tentatively scheduled it to begin on Oct. 21.
Hill is accused by four women—Rep.Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster; Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for Senate Democrats; Samantha Lozano, a legislative assistant for Indiana House Democrats; and Niki DaSilva, a legislative assistant for Indiana Senate Republicans—of inappropriately touching them at an Indianapolis bar during a party celebrating the end of the 2018 legislative session. Hill has denied wrongdoing.
In October, Daniel Sigler, a special prosecutor appointed to look into the allegations, decided against filing charges against Hill. While Sigler said he found the women credible, and that there was no denial by Hill that he’d touched them, Hill disputed the extent of the contact. Sigler cited “significant” alcohol consumption by Hill, but said there was no proof he intended to be touch the women in a “rude, insolent or angry” manner needed for a battery charge.
The case, however, was resurrected in March when the Supreme Court disciplinary commission filed a 10-page complaint against Hill, accusing him of committing both felony-level and misdemeanor battery while acting “with the selfish motive to arouse his sexual desires.”
Hill, the commission said, “has denied responsibility for his actions” while shifting his account of what happened.
When confronted by legislative leaders about the conduct at the party, Hill first said he’d had too much to drink, but later said he was not inebriated.
“As the elected Attorney General, (Hill) holds a position of extreme public trust and his office touches on virtually all areas of state government,” the disciplinary commission said. “As a government lawyer, (Hill) has a heightened duty of ethical conduct that is long established in Indiana ethics law.” He has shown no remorse, they said, and instead has implied the women “falsified their accounts” or were mistaken.
“The respondent’s conduct caused actual or potential injury to his victims and their future careers by forcing them to choose between reporting his conduct or remaining silent,” according to the complaint.
The potential outcomes for Hill range from being cleared of wrongdoing to a reprimand, suspension of his license to practice law or even disbarment. He faces no criminal penalties and cannot be removed from office as impeachment is up to the legislature. However, Indiana law requires the attorney general to be licensed to practice law in this state.
Even if Hill survives this disciplinary commission action, his legal woes may not be over. The four women filed an intent to pursue a civil case, but so far have not filed a lawsuit.
One thing left unresolved Wednesday was where the hearing will take place. Attorneys for both Hill and the disciplinary commission asked that it be held either in the Indiana Supreme Court in the Statehouse or in a Marion County courtroom in the City-County Building.
“I think we’re open to a conversation, whatever works for everybody,” Voyles said.
A pre-hearing briefing will take place seven days before the hearing begins, with Selby ordering that witness and exhibit lists be submitted by Sept. 6.
Victoria Ratliff is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.