Indiana Attorney General's Law License Suspended For Groping

May 11, 2020

Curtis Hill, Indiana Atty. Gen.
Credit WFIU/WTIU

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s law license will be suspended for 30 days and automatically reinstated.

The Indiana Supreme Court handed down its decision Monday.

The court unanimously says Curtis Hill criminally battered four women at a party in March 2018. Allegations from the women – State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster), Gabrielle Brock, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano – became public in July of that year. But a special prosecutor opted not to bring criminal charges and a federal lawsuit by the four women was largely dismissed.

The Supreme Court's ruling comes in a state disciplinary case against the Republican elected official. A hearing officer in that case recommended Hill’s law license be suspended for 60 days, without automatic reinstatement – which would’ve meant Hill was without a valid license for months.

But the state Supreme Court says while Hill committed misdemeanor battery – worth a 30-day suspension – his actions after the allegations became public do not sufficiently indicate he was without remorse and so his license should be automatically reinstated.

Hill says he will temporarily step aside from his role as attorney general while his law license is suspended. The AG says Chief Deputy Aaron Negangard will fill the role for a month before he resumes his duties.

The court's decision also admonishes the attorneys on both sides of the disciplinary proceeding. It says lawyers for the state Disciplinary Commission repeatedly referred to Hill in "hyperbolic terms of sexual predation" and accused him, without evidence, of perjury. And the court scolded Hill's team for attacking the commission's motives and using words like “imperialist,” “coddling,” “dismissive” and “arrogant.” 

It’s not clear what the ruling means for Hill's future as attorney general. State law says the AG must be a citizen and “duly licensed” to practice law in Indiana. But it doesn't say anything about a temporary suspension. And Indiana Senate Republicans killed a bill late in the 2020 session that would've brought clarity to the situation.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has long called on Hill to resign. He says he and his legal team will review the court’s decision.

“And see what are the steps ahead, what do they look like,” Holcomb says.

In a statement, the Indiana Democratic Party calls Hill a "disgrace" whose conduct will be a "lasting stain" on the office. It also criticizes Republicans for failing to remove him from his position.

Hill's license will be reinstated just days before the Indiana Republican Party state convention is scheduled to vote on the GOP nominee for attorney general in this fall's election. Hill is seeking renomination against challengers Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp.

In a statement, Harter said he respects the Supreme Court’s decision and notes Hill has now received the due process he sought.

“Today’s announcement reflects the unavoidable fact that my friend Curtis Hill has lost the trust of Hoosiers and has compromised his ability to do the important work we deserve,” Harter said.

Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer says Hoosiers would be best served by a new Attorney General.

"I have faith in our delegates," Hupfer says.

This story has been updated.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.