Sexual Misconduct Suit Against Indiana AG Dismissed

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – A sexual misconduct lawsuit that has embroiled Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill in allegations that may result in his suspension was dismissed Monday by a federal judge.

Chief U.S. District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson handed down the 37-page ruling in the Southern District of Indiana, finding that the actions alleged in the original complaint did not violate any federal laws and that the matter must be dismissed.

The allegations come from four women, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano who are state legislative staffers Gabrielle McLemore, who serves as the communications director of the Indiana Senate Democrats, and Mara Reardon, who serves as a Democratic representative in the Indiana House of Representatives.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaks at a Department of Justice summit in 2018. (Matt Nichols / Department of Justice)

The complaint claims that in the early hours of March 15, 2018, during a party to celebrate the ending of the legislative session known as the “Sine Die Celebration,” Hill made inappropriate sexual comments and engaged in the unwanted touching of the four plaintiffs.

The complaint specifically claims that Hill “cornered and trapped” McLemore and began rubbing her back without consent and groped Reardon and DaSilva during the party. Lozano claims that while ordering drinks at the same party, Hill grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him.

Magnus-Stinson found that, although the allegations described are “reprehensible,” the matter must be dismissed.

“There is no doubt that the allegations as to Attorney General Hill’s actions toward Plaintiffs at the Sine Die Celebration, which the court must accept as true at this stage of the litigation, describe disgraceful and reprehensible conduct. But the highly offensive nature of the alleged acts does not meet the legal standard necessary to establish a violation of any federal law or the constitution of the United States by Attorney General Curtis Hill,” wrote Magnus-Stinson.

The ruling also found that the women’s claim of due process violations from the alleged unwanted physical conduct did not meet the legal standard required by law.

“The Court finds that the conduct alleged here – Attorney General Hill making inappropriate comments, putting his hand on Ms. DaSilva’s back and sliding it down to her buttocks, grabbing Ms. Lozano around the waist and pulling her towards him, putting his hand on Ms. Reardon’s back and sliding it down to her buttocks and underneath her dress, and rubbing Ms. McLemore’s back – does not meet the  ‘shocks-the-conscience’ standard that is required to support a substantive due process claim,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.

Even in the face of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s call for him to resign, Hill has claimed his innocence against the allegations and is seeking reelection for his position this November.

However, despite the dismissal of the lawsuit, the matter is far from over as the Indiana Supreme Court is currently weighing a disciplinary recommendation that Hill’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days for professional misconduct based upon the women’s allegations.

The potential suspension of Hill’s law license wades into legally murky waters in regards to what happens when the state’s attorney general cannot practice law.

In response to the unclear issue, the Republican controlled Indiana House voted 83-9 on Monday in favor of proposal that would prohibit anyone with a suspended law license from serving as the state’s attorney general.

If approved by the state Senate and Hill’s law license is suspended, he would be prevent from running for the office in the near future as the measure requires any candidate for attorney general to have not been disbarred or suspended from practicing law for more than 30-days, anytime within the five years before taking office.

Despite the legal setback for their complaint, the four women may refile their defamation, battery and invasion of privacy claims in state court, as Magnus-Stinson declined to exercise federal jurisdiction over that set of allegations.

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