Indiana Attorney General Suspended by State Supreme Court in Groping Case


Indiana’s attorney general had his law license suspended for 30 days on Monday by the state Supreme Court, which found that he broke the law by groping four women during a party at the close of the legislative session in 2018.

One of the victims was a state lawmaker and the other three worked as legislative employees at the time of the episode.

The attorney general, Curtis T. Hill Jr., a Republican who was elected in 2016, will begin serving the suspension for misconduct on May 18. He was ordered by the court not to undertake any new legal matters before his suspension begins.

The chief deputy attorney general, Aaron Negangard, will lead the office until Mr. Hill’s reinstatement on June 17, Mr. Hill wrote in a series of Twitter posts on Monday afternoon.

“I accept with humility and respect the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling of a 30-day suspension of my license with automatic reinstatement,” Mr. Hill wrote.

Mr. Hill, 59, did not face criminal charges in the case, which is still the subject of a federal lawsuit that the women filed against him. He has denied the allegations and has resisted calls on both sides of the aisle for him to resign. Mr. Hill is also seeking re-election this year.

“We find ourself in this unprecedented time that Indiana’s top law enforcement official has been suspended for ethical wrongdoing,” Mr. Holcomb said. “There’s no good news in all of this for anyone and everyone that’s involved in this specific case, but suffice to say my personal position has not changed since I reviewed the facts going on about two years ago.”

In a 19-page ruling in the disciplinary case, the court said that it found “clear and convincing evidence” that Mr. Hill had “committed the criminal act of battery” when he made unwanted contact with the four women during a party on March 15, 2018, at A.J.’s Lounge in Indianapolis.

A lawyer for the four women, who included Mara Candelaria Reardon, a Democratic state representative, said the court’s ruling would bolster the lawsuit, but she described Mr. Hill’s response as disappointing.

“It still lacks any form of apology or acceptance of responsibility,” the lawyer, Hannah Kaufman Joseph, said in an interview on Monday.

The accusations against Mr. Hill, who the victims said was intoxicated during the party, first surfaced in a confidential memo that a law firm prepared for state lawmakers. The memo was leaked to news organizations in July 2018.

According to the memo, one legislative worker said Mr. Hill groped her buttocks and told a group of women: “Don’t you know how to get drinks? You have to show a little skin!”

Another legislative worker said he put his hand on her back and rubbed it up and down for about two minutes. Another said he put his arm around her waist and somewhat “hugged” her to him.

Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party, criticized Republicans on Monday for allowing Mr. Hill to remain in office.

“Curtis Hill is a disgrace,” Ms. Ganapini said in a statement. “His conduct as an elected official was repulsive and will be a lasting stain on the office and the party he serves.”

After the court issued its ruling on Monday, the state Republican Party chairman, Kyle Hupfer, said it was time for a change, but suggested that he was leaving it up to the delegates at the party’s nominating convention in June. Mr. Hill is facing several Republican challengers for the nomination, local media reported.

“The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that Curtis Hill committed battery against four female victims,” Mr. Hupfer said in a statement. “Hoosiers would be best served by having a new attorney general. I have faith in our delegates.”

The Republican Attorneys General Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, the Legislature considered a bill that would have led to Mr. Hill forfeiting his office in the event of a 30-day suspension of his law license, but lawmakers could not come to an agreement on its language, The Indianapolis Star reported.

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