Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler has concluded Attorney General Curtis Hill inappropriately touched four women at an Indianapolis bar on March 15, but also that Hill's conduct did not rise to a criminal level. The announcement Tuesday prompted Hill's defense attorney to claim his client was “exonerated and absolved of any factual and legal criminal behavior.”
On the contrary, Sigler's report and another by Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres validate the charges. They affirm unacceptable behavior by the state's top law enforcement official. As we wrote in July, Hill should resign.
High-ranking state officials agree.
“Hoosiers expect better from the people they elect to represent them in state government, especially when the individual involved is the chief law enforcement officer for the state of Indiana,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long in a statement Tuesday, repeating an earlier call for Hill's resignation.
Gov. Eric Holcomb took an equally strong position: “I said I believed the women who stepped forward to report sexual harassment by the Indiana attorney general. The special prosecutor agreed and said, 'I have accepted the victim statements as true.'
“The findings show a disregard of the executive branch zero tolerance harassment policy. My position has not changed,” Holcomb wrote with reference to his own call for Hill's resignation.
The report from the inspector general's office is damning evidence of Hill's behavior. From receipts detailing the drinks lobbyists purchased for the attorney general, we know he drank wine, martinis and Fireball whiskey at the post-legislative session gathering. Witnesses said his speech was slurred, he had trouble standing and was “glassy-eyed.” One described him as “acting like a freshman at a college frat party.” Torres said witnesses described Hill's behavior as inappropriate, unwelcome and “creepy.”
“All but one of the women who alleged Hill inappropriately touched them were in their 20s and new in their careers. This demonstrates the disparate power, influence, authority, and age that existed between Hill and the women who made allegations against him,” stated the report.
“The public and others will judge whether the evidence in this case disqualifies Hill from holding elected office in the future.”
The courts could have some say in the attorney general's future. Shortly after the special prosecutor's announcement, the four women who accused Hill of groping them gathered with an attorney to announce they will file a civil suit, alleging discrimination, retaliation and intimidation.
Three Democratic lawmakers have said they will proceed with an impeachment resolution, but it's unclear whether the Indiana Constitution provides for the attorney general's removal from office, as his position is not listed with other state offices included in the impeachment provision. The state court's code of professional conduct might allow for removal from office if Hill was found to have violated it, according to the Associated Press.
Sigler, the special prosecutor, afforded the attorney general special treatment in allowing him to submit a video statement.
“There are choices – you could send a couple (of) detectives in there and interview him, and he might talk to them and he might not,” Sigler said. “I just decided I wanted to be respectful of him and his position.”
Hill should show respect to the office as well. His behavior last March might not rise to the level of criminal conduct by Indiana statute, but it was not in keeping with standards Hoosiers expect from their elected officials. He should resign.