(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill is threatening a libel suit over a memo accusing him of inappropriate touching — but not against the women making the accusations.
Attorney Kevin Betz says Munster Representative Mara Candelaria-Reardon’s published description of her encounter with Hill doesn’t match the report prepared for legislative leaders. The report says Reardon accused Hill of twice sliding his hand under her dress to grab her behind, at a party at a downtown bar following the adjournment of the legislative session. An op-ed Reardon authored describes Hill sliding his hand down her back and grabbing her a single time. Betz concedes either action would be inappropriate, but contends the difference between the two is significant, and libelous. He charges the version which appears in the memo was “fabricated.”
Betz says he’s not accusing Reardon or three other women of lying– he says it’s not unusual for recollections to differ. He’s also not taking issue with Blake Burgan, the outside attorney whom legislative leaders hired to assess the legislature’s legal responsibility as the accusers’ employer. Instead, he says a potential libel suit would target whoever leaked the report, and the person who wrote up the allegations for Burgan. It was a month after Reardon came forward that the report was issued, and Betz says to misstate the charge with that much time to investigate reflects the “reckless disregard for the truth” required for a libel verdict.
Betz says he believes Hill has a solid libel case, but says he wants to gather more information before going forward with the suit, including pressing legislators for the identities of the prospective defendants. He says calls for Hill’s resignation from Governor Holcomb and legislative leaders in both parties amount to “hysteria.”
Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres is reviewing the accusations and will present her findings to a special prosecutor for a decision on possible criminal charges.
Betz is demanding legislators identify who leaked the memo and who compiled the information Burgan used in it. House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long have previously denounced the leak. In a statement responding to Betz, they declared, “We believe Curtis Hill is the individual who should be answering questions about allegations of inappropriate conduct, and we stand by our prior statements regarding this matter. We are fully cooperating with the Inspector General’s Office as they conduct their current investigation and will await the results.”
Attorney General Curtis Hill (Photo: Curtis Hill for Indiana)