Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill doubled down on Monday, claiming his own innocence against four separate accusations of inappropriate touching.
“I now stand publicly and falsely accused of abhorrent behavior,” Hill said, behind a microphone-crammed dais. “The standard is guilty, and who cares if you’re innocent?”
Earlier this month, the Indianapolis Star published the contents of an eight-page confidential memo detailing sexual harassment accusations against Hill. Six women were interviewed as part of an investigation that was completed by outside legal counsel and ordered by legislative leaders in the state. The memo, which was completed on June 18, found that four women were inappropriately touched by the Republican at a bar on the last night of the legislative session.
In addition to the inappropriate touching, Hill also allegedly told other women that they needed to “show a little skin” to get faster bar service.
“Folks we are living in a time when accusations alone have the power of conviction,” Hill said Monday, claiming that he has been “condemned without the benefit of any basic rights” and that his reputation has been “dragged through the gutter.”
His brief statement—which largely focused on what he claimed is a quick-to-condemn “atmosphere” created by the #MeToo movement—lasted just eight minutes before he quickly left the room without taking questions. Hill was elected in 2016 and is the state’s first African-American man to hold the post, according to the Star. He is married and has five children.
After the initial reports, two women whose accusations were included in the memo came forward to publicly accuse him, including Democratic State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and Gabrielle McLemore, a communications director for the state senate’s Democratic party.
“I am not anonymous,” Reardon wrote in an open letter published in The Times of Northwest Indiana. “I am a wife, mother, business owner, and a state representative. I am also a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.”
“As we were exchanging pleasantries, Curtis Hill leaned toward me as if he could not hear me and placed his hand on my back and slid his hand down to my buttocks and grabbed it,” she wrote. “I said ‘back off,’ and walked away, as the staffer with me stood shocked.”
“Later in the evening, I was standing with a group of people, and he approached the group. Hill came up behind me and put his hand on my back again and said ‘That skin. That back.’ I recoiled away,” she continued. “To me, he was not the Attorney General, or a married man, or a religious man, or a Republican. He was the man who put his hand on my skin and my buttocks.”
McLemore wrote her own open letter, which was published in the Star.
“I was cornered by Indiana's attorney general, who I had never previously met, and he began rubbing my back,” she wrote. “I couldn’t hear a single word he said after that as the following thoughts buzzed through my head: What will people think if they see this interaction? Will they think I beckoned him over? Will they make quick judgments that I was flirting with him? Would they assume I enjoyed the attention?”
“Let me be clear,” she added, “These are not what any person should have to think about when another individual breaks their personal boundary and decides it’s okay to touch them without permission.”
Bipartisan leaders throughout the state’s legislature called on Hill’s resignation by Friday morning.
In coordinated statements on Thursday, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and state Senate Majority Leader David Long (R) called on Hill to step down.
“We do not believe that Curtis Hill, as chief law enforcement officer of the State of Indiana, can continue to perform his duties, nor should he, and we call for his immediate resignation,” Bosma and Long reportedly wrote in a joint statement. “Curtis Hill is not our employee; if he was, he would already have been fired. Because we cannot terminate his employment, we ask instead for him to own up to his actions, apologize publicly to the victims, and tender his resignation immediately.”
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb echoed that sentiment, applauding the courage it took for the women to step forward and noting that Hill “should resign.”
But in a statement released on Friday, Hill said he had no plans to resign, calling the allegations “vicious and false.”
“At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately,” Hill wrote. “The lack of fairness and the failure to recognize my constitutional rights are a complete travesty.”
Despite Hill’s repeated denials, about 75 people rallied at the state capitol on Saturday to call for his resignation, according to RTV6-TV.
“Believing victims is one of the most fundamental ways we offer the support they need to heal from the trauma of violence,” Kerry Hyatt Bennett, legal counsel for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, reportedly told the television station. “Attorney General Curtis Hill holds a powerful position in the state of Indiana, but he is not above the law."