Indiana AG may face license suspension, despite dismissal of sexual misconduct suit
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. Photo from the Attorney General of Indiana website.
A federal judge dismissed Monday a lawsuit brought against Indiana’s attorney general by four women who accused him of groping them at a 2018 party.
In her ruling, Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana said that while the allegations against Attorney General Curtis Hill “describe disgraceful and reprehensible conduct,” they do not violate any federal laws.
The Indiana Supreme Court is considering a recommendation that Hill’s law license be suspended for at least 60 days for professional misconduct, and on Monday, the state’s House of Representatives approved a proposal that would prohibit anyone whose law license has been suspended for at least 30 days from serving as attorney general, the South Bend Tribune reports.
Hill is seeking reelection, but Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials have called on him to resign.
State legislative staffers Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano; Senate Democratic communications director Gabrielle McLemore; and Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, filed the lawsuit against Hill after he allegedly made inappropriate comments and touched them during a March 2018 party to celebrate the end of the legislative session.
They specifically alleged that Hill grabbed Lozano around the waist and pulled her close to him and ran his hand down DaSilva’s back and placed it on her buttocks. Hill also allegedly “cornered and trapped” McLemore and rubbed her back and placed his hand on Reardon’s back and then “slid his hand down, underneath her dress, reached to her buttocks and grabbed it.”
Hill denied the allegations, and Time reports that his lawyers argued that the women didn’t have a valid case for sexual harassment under federal law because Hill is an elected officer of the executive branch and they work for the state government’s legislative branch.
Magnus-Stinson agreed, saying that 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.”
“With respect to plaintiffs’ allegations about their workplace environment, they may be legally cognizable,” she added. “However, plaintiffs may only bring Title VII claims against the governmental entity that employs them, not the state of Indiana.”
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