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Bridging The Gap
Indiana attorney general, accused of groping, says he's been unfairly judged
  Monday 09 July, 2018
Indiana attorney general, accused of groping, says he\'s been unfairly judged

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who has been accused of inappropriately touching at least four women, said in prepared comments Monday that his reputation has been "dragged through the gutter."

Standing alone at a podium inside his office at the Indiana Statehouse, Hill said bipartisan calls for his resignation have been unfair. And he said a legislative investigation has lacked due process.

"I stand before you a condemned man. Condemned without trial. Condemned without notice. Condemned without the benefit of any basic rights that ensure fairness," Hill said.

Hill, a Republican, now faces an Indiana Inspector General investigation after four women accused Hill of inappropriately touching them at an Indianapolis bar in March. Hill has denied any inappropriate behavior.

The allegations, shared with top Indiana lawmakers during a May investigation, became public last Monday when the contents of a confidential memo were published by The Indianapolis Star. Two of the women then stepped forward to share their accounts publicly.

Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, a Democrat from Munster, Indiana, said Hill groped her buttocks at a party at AJ's Lounge to celebrate the end of the regular legislative session in March. Gabrielle McLemore, a Democratic legislative staffer, said Hill cornered her at the bar and rubbed her back against her will.

Hill also stands accused of being intoxicated while groping another woman's butt, inappropriately touching a fourth woman and urging women at the bar to show more skin to get free drinks, according to the memo prepared for top lawmakers.

Hill cited the memo's findings as part of his criticisms of the legislative investigation and Candelaria Reardon’s allegations. Some contents of the memo differed from the account shared by Candelaria Reardon in her letter to The Indianapolis Star.

The memo said Hill reached underneath Candelaria Reardon's clothing twice and grabbed her buttocks. In her letter, Candelaria Reardon did not describe Hill as reaching beneath her clothing, and she wrote that she moved away before Hill could grab her buttocks a second time.

"She confirmed that her accusation, which is the most serious accusation by far contained in the confidential report, was materially inaccurate," Hill said Monday.

Beyond broadly denying the allegations, Hill did not provide his own characterization of his interactions with Candelaria Reardon at the bar that night.

In an interview last week, Candelaria Reardon said the account she provided House investigators has remained consistent. What's contained in the memo, Candelaria Reardon said, must have been a misunderstanding. She did not see the memo until The Indianapolis Star published it, she said.

In her letter, Candelaria Reardon also said Hill arrived alone at the bar. In his comments Monday, Hill said he was a guest of Tony Samuel, a lobbyist and the former vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign in Indiana.

"This inaccurate, confidential report has formed the basis of the calls for my resignation. These calls for my resignation are unwarranted. And those calls should be rescinded," Hill said.

Candelaria Reardon responded to Hill's comments Monday, saying Hill "through his actions has betrayed the public trust and lied about his actions to the very citizens he serves."

Republican leaders — led by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate head David Long — have led a bipartisan chorus demanding Hill step down.

A former Elkhart County, Indiana, prosecutor, Hill was elected attorney general in 2016 and has used the office to build a national profile. He's weighed in on controversial issues such as the NFL anthem protests and medical marijuana. He has visited the White House at least four times to meet with Trump on issues such as school safety and prison reform.

Last week, Hill's statements were issued through emails and ads populating Twitter, Facebook and Google. He has declined several Indianapolis Star requests for interviews.

On Monday, his brief comments were delivered in person. Hill quoted from the Constitution as he referenced the legislative investigation.

"That protection, that standard of fairness, that benefit of the doubt, that presumption of innocence until proven guilty, has escaped my grasp," Hill said. "I never dreamed this could happen to me. And yet, here I stand."

Hill also criticized the media for its handling of the story.

"Across the country we see a media, based on sensationalism, nurturing an appetite for scandal fueled by social media. Today it seems that appetite can only be satisfied by complete destruction," Hill said.

Before he walked away from the podium, he concluded his comments with one last statement.

"A week ago today, I had a name," HIll said. "And I want my name back."

He declined to take any questions from reporters.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/09/curtis-hill-attorney-general-indiana-addresses-allegations-inappropriate-touching/767969002/

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