INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana lawmaker at the center of groping allegations against Attorney General Curtis Hill came forward Friday to accuse him publicly of groping her twice during a party earlier this year, ratcheting up pressure on the embattled Republican to resign.
Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon published her own account of the March 15 incident, which occurred at an Indianapolis bar, in The (Northwest Indiana) Times newspaper.
She describes Hill’s behavior as “deviant” when she encountered him in the early morning hours after the legislative session ended for the year. She says he leaned toward her, put his hand on her back, slid it down and grabbed her buttocks. The Munster lawmaker says she told Hill to “back off,” but he approached her again later in the night, put his hand on her back and said: “That skin. That back.”
Hill has denied allegations that he groped Candelaria Reardon and three other legislative staffers, which were included in a confidential memo leaked to news organizations earlier this week. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct or assault unless they come forward publicly.
“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,” she wrote in the piece. “I speak out now, to support the other victims of Attorney General Curtis Hill, who have not yet found their voice.”
Hill’s office says he has not been in this week and a spokeswoman for the attorney general has not responded to a request for comment.
Hill is a staunch social conservative who is married and has been viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party. The former Elkhart County prosecutor has visited the White House several times since President Donald Trump took office. In May, he warmed up the crowd at a rally Trump held in his hometown.
Candelaria Reardon’s account of the event is all but certain to put more pressure on Hill to step down.
On Thursday night, Indiana’s top GOP leaders joined Democrats who had earlier said Hill should step down.
“Four women had the courage to step forward to report sexual harassment by the Indiana attorney general,” Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement Thursday night. “The findings of the recent legislative report are disturbing and, at a minimum, show a violation of the state’s zero tolerance sexual harassment policy.”
Two female Republican statewide officeholders — Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Secretary of State Connie Lawson — later also called on Hill to step down .
The call from high-level Republicans for Hill to resign comes after Democrats ratcheted up political pressure in an election year where female voters could make a big difference at the polls. Over the past week, Democrats have harshly criticized what they characterize as a lackluster Republican response to the allegations against Hill. A Statehouse rally calling for Hill’s resignation was being planned for Saturday.
The accusations against Hill were included in a confidential legislative memo that was leaked this week to news outlets, including The Associated Press. The document, which includes details from interviews with six women, offers a picture of a drunken Hill carousing during the party.
Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney said that if Hill doesn’t resign, the Legislature should impeach him.
“I think there is an adequate basis and the law provides for that,” said DeLaney, a lawyer from Indianapolis. “I think he has no choice but to resign. But that doesn’t mean he will take that choice.”
Hill has a complicated relationship with fellow Indiana Republicans, particularly Holcomb, and this week found himself with few allies. In the past he vehemently criticized several policy initiatives Holcomb championed, including expanded needle exchanges to reduce the spread of infectious disease among drug users and a law legalizing the use of a cannabis-derived medicine that can reduce seizures but won’t get you high.
For the latest developments on this story: https://www.apnews.com/1fa777e91d774ac6b513e5cfc886764d