Munster Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon came forward Friday as the victim of alleged misconduct by embattled Attorney General Curtis Hill.
Candelaria Reardon released a column Friday saying she was the legislator who was allegedly groped by Hill at an end-of-session party in Indianapolis. The Democratic legislator’s public statement was followed by another account by a spokeswoman for the Indiana Senate Democrats late Friday afternoon who said she, too, was approached by Hill that evening and allegedly touched inappropriately, according to the AP.
Political leaders Friday continued to call for Hill’s resignation after allegations of inappropriate conduct toward a representative and several other legislative staffers.
“As I continue to deal with the harm perpetrated by Indiana’s top law enforcement official, I must also deal with the reality that there is no process by which Curtis Hill, an independently elected official can be held accountable. No censure. No recall. Not even a slap on the hand,” Candelaria Reardon said, in a statement. “I speak out now, to support the other victims of Attorney General Curtis Hill, who have not yet found their voice.”
“I call upon our Statehouse leaders to protect not only the young adult public servants, but state employees, and to create a method whereby deviant behavior is held accountable, no matter the perpetrator’s title,” Candelaria Reardon wrote.
Hill denied the accusations Friday and maintained that he will not resign. Hill has also asked the Marion County prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation and said the state’s findings are already prejudiced against him.
“I am not resigning. The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately,” Hill said, in a statement. “The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty.”
“Elected officials have called for my resignation without affording me any due process or conducting an actual, fair and independent investigation,” Hill added.
The Indianapolis Star reported Monday that legislative leaders conducted an internal investigation after a state representative and several staffers reported Hill’s conduct to them.
Northwest Indiana officials called the incident “reprehensible” and said the alleged conduct cannot be tolerated.
Porter County Republican Party Chair Michael Simpson said he was shocked by allegations that Hill inappropriately touched and grabbed four women in March and, if the allegations are true, that the attorney general should resign.
“I find the behavior unacceptable and inexcusable if the allegations are truly correct,” Simpson said, adding he can only go by of what’s been in the media. “It’s inexcusable and he should step aside. I don’t care if you’re drunk or not. It’s unacceptable.”
The incidents allegedly occurred March 15 at an Indianapolis bar after the end of the legislative session.
Simpson said he’s “unbelievably disappointed” because he knows Hill and had a high opinion of him. He added that Hill is smart, a great guy and a great attorney general.
The allegations of Hill’s behavior are unsettling all the same, Simpson said.
“I don’t believe that’s how you conduct yourself with women,” Simpson said. “If it’s true, I think he should step down because it’s simply inexcusable.”
Dan Dernulc, chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee, said he doesn’t know the details of the investigation, but if the allegations are shown to be true, Hill should step aside.
“Any type of sexual harassment cannot be tolerated,” Dernulc said.
Any elected official should be held to a high standard, Dernulc said, and any untoward conduct is not appropriate.
Jim Wieser, chairman of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, said based on what he’s seen, allegations were made and looked credible. Wieser said they were investigated by a reputable law firm and accepted by Legislative leaders.
“That conduct cannot be tolerated,” Wieser said.
Hill is the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Wieser said, and the alleged actions have criminal implications.
“Our attorney general ought to recognize he can no longer serve the public interest,” Wieser said.
Since the allegations against Hill were released, a growing group of Indiana politicians called for Hill’s ouster.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne), Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin (Austin) , Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody, and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus have all called on Hill to resign.
“Today, we join the clarion call insisting that our Attorney General resign his office,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis and chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, in a statement. “This is the top law enforcement official in our state, and we cannot have someone in that position whom people cannot trust.”
“We want our staff and women legislators to feel comfortable in the Statehouse,” Pryor said. “They should not be subjected to the kind of unacceptable behavior that has been described in recent days.”
Post-Tribune freelance reporter Amy Lavalley and the AP contributed.