Curtis Hill Disciplinary Hearing Begins

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Curtis Hill Disciplinary Hearing Begins

Attorney general's legal team argues groping accusations reflect perceptions which don't match intent

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Attorney General Curtis Hill's discipinary hearing is underway as he fights accusations of inappropriately touching four women.

Munster Representative Mara Candelaria-Reardon (D) has accused Hill of sliding a thumb inside her dress and grabbing her butt last year at a party marking the end of the legislative session. Three legislative staffers, from both parties, say Hill touched them inappropriately as well and made sexual comments.

.Hill's legal team and the Supreme Court's disciplinary commission agree the case is about perceptions. Hill's lawyers say the attorney general was just doing normal political gladhanding and trying to hear in a noisy bar, and that the women misinterpreted his touch as sexual. The commission's Seth Pruden says a woman knows the difference between a friendly touch and a sexual grab.

The hearing is the first time Hill's legal team has publicly cross-examined his accusers. Much of the back-and-forth with Reardon, the first witness, centered on differences in the description of how Hill touched her. The incident became public last summer with the leak of an independent review requested by House leadership. Reardon says that report got a detail wrong: she says Hill put his hand inside her dress, not under it as the report stated. Hill seized on that discrepancy in the first weeks of the controversy, and his legal team argues even Reardon is inconsistent, describing the contact in some statements as Hill's hand and in others as his thumb. Reardon responded that the thumb is part of the hand, and that grabbing her in either fashion is unacceptable. 

Hill's lawyers also argue the commission's authority is limited to acts related to the practice of law. 

A special prosecutor called the women's accounts credible but declined to bring criminal charges against Hill. The four women have sued Hill and the General Assembly.

The hearing is scheduled to last all week -- former Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby will make a recommendation to the current justices. If the court decides Hill committed misconduct, the penalties range from a private reprimand to taking his law license. The attorney general is legally required to be an attorney, so disbarment would also force Hill from office.

Attorney General Curtis Hill (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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