Suit dismissed over Indiana attorney general groping claims

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Indiana’s attorney general by four women who say he drunkenly groped them during a party.

Posted: Mar 2, 2020 6:36 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Indiana’s attorney general by four women who say he drunkenly groped them during a party.

Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill has denied the allegations and his lawyers argued the women didn’t have a valid case for sexual harassment under federal law because they all worked for state government’s legislative branch while Hill is an elected officer of the executive branch.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote in Monday’s ruling that the women described “disgraceful and reprehensible conduct” but the allegations didn’t meet the legal standard to establish a violation of federal law.

Hill said in a statement that he was grateful for the ruling and looked forward to continuing as attorney general. A spokeswoman for the women’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.

The state Supreme Court is considering a recommendation that Hill’s law license be suspended for at least 60 days for alleged professional misconduct. The Indiana House voted Monday in favor of a proposal that would prohibit anyone whose law license has been suspended for at least 30 days from serving as attorney general.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below.

Indiana legislators have taken their first step toward possibly forcing the state’s attorney general from office if Indiana’s highest court suspends his law license following allegations that he grabbed the buttocks of a female state legislator and inappropriately touched three other women during a party.

The Republican-dominated Indiana House voted 83-9 Monday in favor of a proposal that would prohibit anyone whose law license has been suspended for at least 30 days from serving as attorney general.

Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill is awaiting a decision from the state Supreme Court on whether he’ll face any punishment for the alleged professional misconduct. A hearing officer last month recommended that his law license be suspended for at least 60 days, writing that Hill’s “conduct was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women.

Hill, who is seeking reelection this year, has denied wrongdoing and rebuffed calls from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other GOP state officials to resign for his actions during the March 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar.

Legislative Republicans had resisted taking steps toward forcing Hill out, but House Speaker Brian Bosma said the new provision is needed because it could take a year for Hill to regain his law license if the Supreme Court were to not allow automatic reinstatement.

“We felt like we needed to give some clarity so that our state is not faced with a vacancy that cannot be filled or is undefined,” Bosma told reporters.

The provision still needs the Senate’s approval to become law.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that the proposal “raises some legal concerns – and this kind of rushed proposal lacks transparency and leaves no opportunity for public input.”

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