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The Journal Gazette

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019 1:00 am

Hill denies Indiana high court's complaint

Misconduct claims stem from official's 'offensive conduct'

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Curtis Hill has denied allegations of impropriety in a new filing.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against his law license in March and his response was due next week. He filed it Friday.

No new information came to light in the response – it simply says “denied” after each allegation. A few times it also says Hill lacked knowledge or sufficient information on a specific detail.

The commission found there is reasonable cause to believe Hill committed attorney misconduct. Hill's “ethical violations and offensive conduct reflect poorly on the legal profession and does incalculable harm to the public perception of the Attorney General's office and all the state agencies it represents,” the complaint said.

The complaint centers on Hill's alleged touching of a female lawmaker and several staffers at a March 2018 party following the end of the legislative session. The women involved in the case belong to both parties.

Hill admitted being at the party that night in the latest filing but denied everything else, including groping the women against their will, calling one of the women hot and saying women have to show skin to get drinks.

Top GOP officials urged Hill to resign, but he refused. An ethics investigation resulted in no action, and a special prosecutor chose not to file criminal charges against Hill.

Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby has been assigned hearing officer in the case, and a pre-hearing conference has been set for May 22.

The five-member Indiana Supreme Court will ultimately make the decision on whether or not to discipline Hill. They can choose to do nothing, reprimand Hill publicly or privately, suspend him and even disbar him.

It's unclear whether Hill could remain in his position if the state Supreme Court takes action against him. If Hill loses his law license, he could not be attorney general because having a valid license is a requirement. But there is no precedent for whether a 30-day suspension, for instance, would create a vacancy to fill.