2 Women speak out after accusing Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill of groping

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Indiana's Attorney General said he will not resign in the face of sexual assault allegations. (WLS)

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, under fire for allegations he groped and sexually harassed four women, said he will not resign.

Two women are now speaking publicly after accusing Hill of groping.

Democratic State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon, from Munster said she is a victim of sexual battery at the hands of the state's top law enforcement official. The incident happened at AJ's Lounge in Indianapolis March 15, at a party after the legislative session ended.

In a statement Reardon said:
"As we were exchanging pleasantries, Curtis Hill leaned toward me as if he could not hear me and placed his hand on my back and slid his hand down to my buttocks and grabbed it. I said 'back off,' and walked away..."

Later that evening Reardon said Hill approached her again.

"Hill came up behind me and put his hand on my back again and said, 'That skin. That back.' I recoiled away before he could touch my buttocks again," Reardon said.

Two other women at the party also accused Hill of groping them and making inappropriate comments.

Reardon decided to go public after the outpouring of calls from other politicians for the attorney general to resign and to support the other victims who feel they have no voice.

Gabrielle McLemore, the Indiana Senate Democrats' communications director, told The Associated Press that she decided to go public partly out of frustration that Hill issued a defiant statement Friday calling the allegations false.

The two women also said they acted because they wanted to give other women the courage to confront inappropriate conduct.

McLemore said Hill cornered her at the party and asked, "Do you know who I am?" and proceeded to massage her back, while she worried what others who noticed Hill's unwanted advances would think.

Eventually her intern intervened by asking if she wanted to go to the bathroom.

McLemore said she never wanted to come forward, but changed her mind after seeing that earlier on Friday Candelaria Reardon had come forward, and that Hill continued to deny he did anything wrong.

"Women go through this stuff all the time," McLemore told The Associated Press. For Hill "to deny it again and again is so frustrating. If my story can help other women feel like they don't have to hide, that they don't have to feel like they did something wrong - that's my goal."

Several other women shared similar stories with investigators who looked into the matter, according to a confidential memo that was leaked this week.

An independent investigation by an Indianapolis law firm reported Hill appeared intoxicated. Top Republican and Democratic politicians, including the governor are now calling for Hill to resign.

"Very disappointed, he needs to step aside because his reputation is tarnished and he will be totally ineffective in the office," said Rep. Michael Aylesworth (R) Lake and Porter Counties.

Hill has denied the allegations and is now calling for a fair and thorough investigation, in a statement he said:

"I am not resigning. The allegations against me are vicious and false. At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately."

State lawmaker Linda Lawson, a friend of Reardon's is now organizing a protest march in Indianapolis on Saturday.

"I've decided, along with the decision of the other women who are participating in this, not to make it a Republican, Democrat issue, but to look at it as a victim's issue," Lawson said.

Rep. Reardon will not be attending the rally, according to a spokesman, who said she does not want to be the focus of all this.

The Indiana Inspector General is now launching an investigation.

Indiana's sexual battery statute says it's a felony to touch "another person's genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast when that person is unaware."

The full statement released by State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon says:
My name is Mara Candelaria Reardon.
I am not anonymous.

I am a wife, mother, business owner, and a State Representative.
I am also a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
In the early hours of March 15, as is the tradition, lawmakers, staff, and others engaged in the legislative process, gathered to mark the end of the legislative session. As I was crossing the room, I came across Attorney General Curtis Hill, entering the party alone. I was quite surprised to see him in this setting, because in my 12 years in and around the General Assembly, I have not seen any Attorney General attend an end of session gathering. He greeted me and the staffer that was with me. While I do not know him personally, we had met before. As we were exchanging pleasantries, Curtis Hill leaned toward me as if he could not hear me and placed his hand on my back and slid his hand down to my buttocks and grabbed it. I said "back off", and walked away, as the staffer with me stood shocked. Later in the evening, I was standing with a group of people, and he approached the group. Hill came up behind me and put his hand on my back again and said "That skin. That back." I recoiled away before he could touch my buttocks again.
As a strong, independent woman, I planned to address the issue personally with Hill. To me, he was not the Attorney General, or a married man, or a religious man, or a Republican. He was the man who put his hand on my skin and my buttocks, and I felt I needed to address it face to face.
That was my plan, however a few weeks later, I was having lunch with a fellow legislator and a member of the legislative staff. At that time, the staffer, still shocked and disgusted, told us that after I went home, Curtis Hill continued to grope at least four other women, herself included. I realized that this was bigger than me, and I had an obligation to report it to our House leadership, to protect these women and any others, from Curtis Hill's deviant conduct. These young women came to Indianapolis to be mentored and taught professional conduct, not to be assaulted.
I reported the deviant conduct to the Democrat leader, and together we went to Speaker Brian Bosma. I appreciate the earnestness with which Republican and Democrat legislative leaders launched an investigation into these independent incidents. They interviewed six women independently, and hired an independent law firm to investigate as well.
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.
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.
I am grateful for the strong statements from Governor Holcomb, Speaker Bosma, Senate Pro-tem Long, Senate Minority Leader Lanane, and House Minority Leader Goodin, which have all called for Attorney General Curtis Hill's resignation. I encourage all Hoosiers of good will to join them in this demand.
State Representative Mara Candelaria
Munster, IN


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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