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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Curtis Hill’s disciplinary hearing is over, after the attorney general testified under oath for the first time about groping allegations.

Hill was the sole witness on the final day of the four-day hearing into accusations that he inappropriately touched a legislator and three legislative staffers at a post-adjournment party last year. Hill testified he had four drinks, more than he usually does, but spread out over more than four hours, starting with an 8:30 dinner long before the after-midnight party. He says he wasn’t drunk, and while some witnesses said he appeared to be, Hill says no one pulled him aside to suggest he’d had too many or needed to dial back his behavior.

Hill maintains two Democratic legislative staffers misinterpreted it when he put his arm around them. The Republican attorney generalsays he was pulling one women in closer so he could hear her in the noisy bar, while another had previously posed for a selfie with him at a charity event,.with both draping arms around each other.

But Hill was unequivocal in denying testimony by a Republican staffer and Representative Mara Candelaria-Reardon (D-Munster) that he slid his hand down their backs and squeezed their behinds. He says he briefly put his hand on Candelaria-Reardon’s back, but pulled away after realizing she was wearing a backless dress. He denies Reardon’s claim he slid a thumb inside the dress.

Hill also denied sexually propositioning an employee from his days as Elkhart County prosecutor. Kathleen Bowers’ accusation isn’t among the disciplinary charges against Hill, but the commission argues it shows a pattern of behavior.

Hill gave a recorded statement during a special prosecutor investigation, but that was unsworn with questions from his own attorney. This time, Disciplinary Commission attorney Seth Pruden challenged Hill’s suggestion that his accusers misread his actions. In a combative exchange, Pruden asked if there’s any way to touch someone’s bottom without it being rude or insolent, the words which legally define battery. Hill says it depends on context. Asked for an example which wouldn’t be rude, Hill suggested a two-year-old, prompting Pruden to question equating “a poopy diaper” with four adult women.

Pruden and Hill also sparred over emails in which Hill, office and campaign staffers, and outside allies exchange drafts of op-eds and statements attacking the investigation. At one point, Hill refused to concede that the abbreviation “LTE” stood for “letter to the editor,” even after viewing the letter attached to the email. Another email with the subject line “background on disciplinary committee members” floats the idea of “pitching conservative media” on a story that “(Governor Eric) Holcomb cronies and political liberals are driving this.” A reply from Hill says, “Thank you. Very enlightening.” 

The commission’s complaint has argued Hill’s response to the investigation is grounds for harsher discipline.

It’ll be at least two months before former Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby issues her recommendations, and at least a month beyond that before the court makes a final ruling. Hill could be cleared of the charges, or, if he’s found to have committed misconduct, could face punishment ranging from a private reprimand to disbarment.

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