Jeff Miller reaches plea deal, resigns from Indianapolis City-County Council
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Councilman Jeff Miller has resigned from the Indianapolis City-County Council.
The resignation is part of a plea agreement that Miller took Wednesday. He has pleaded guilty to four felony counts of battery on a person less than 14 years old after admitting to touching and massaging a pair of 10-year-old girls at his home.
The plea agreement ends a case that began in November when Marion County prosecutors charged him with three counts of child molestation.
Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham II, who took over the case in January, reached a deal with Miller’s attorneys that downgraded the charges while still resulting in felony convictions.
The agreement will allow Miller to avoid sex offender status. Instead, he was sentenced to four years of probation, with some additional conditions. As part of his agreement, Miller will also not be able live within one mile of his victims.
Marion County Republicans will now call a caucus within the next 30 days to name Miller’s successor.
“I’m glad its over,” said Senator Jim Merritt, Republican County Chairman. “This has been a long time getting justice delivered.”
Miller’s successor will serve out his term which is up for election in November of next year.
The now-dismissed molestation charges were a result of a report filed with IMPD investigators on Oct. 20. According to court documents, police executed a search warrant for Miller’s downtown home the next day.
The warrant directed officers to search for handheld body massagers and massage tools or implements.
According to court documents filed in the case, one of the two alleged victims told authorities Miller “did bad touch” to her at his home on Oct. 20. She was playing a computer game when Miller allegedly came up to her and started massaging her. She tried to squirm away, but he allegedly didn’t stop.
This happened the next time she went to the home as well, according to court documents. She said he was doing it subtly and was touching her skin underneath her shirt. Court documents show she said Miller accidentally touched “this.” She didn’t say specifically what, but was pulling at her bra strap.
The victim also said Miller tried to massage her between the legs, but she told him she didn’t like it. She asked once, “Can you stop” and tried to squirm away on other occasions, court documents say.
Miller is also accused of patting her on the butt. She said nobody saw him do it, but he just kept doing it and would do so every time she was there. Court documents show she demonstrated to authorities how Miller would also touch her side. She claims one time, “he went all the way up and touched.”
Police interviewed Miller about the allegations on Oct. 21. When asked what would happen when kids came over to his home, he said the kids sometimes go off and play in other rooms. They also play hide and seek or video games.
They sometimes played a game called “Ride the Wild Jeff-beast.” He also said he’d sometimes give them piggyback rides and they “have back massagers.”
He said that it was okay if they didn’t and said, “I’m not trying to say that as a negative, I just mean, I try to operate in that, the old swimsuit…rule, you know. Don’t touch anybody where the swimsuit covers.”
He also said if anything made someone uncomfortable, that’s legitimate. He claimed he would always make sure they were comfortable with whatever was being done, and denied ever touching the accusers in their genitals.
The accusers’ parents said they were not aware he was using massage items on their children.
Miller (R – District 16), was elected in 2011 to represent the near southeast, south and southwest sides of Indianapolis on the City-County Council. He was re-elected in 2015. His district includes Fountain Square, the Old Southside near Meridian, Mars Hill on the west side, IUPUI, UIndy and White River State Park.
Below is Miller’s letter of resignation:
By this letter, I respectfully submit my resignation from the City-County Council of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, Marion County Indiana effective 9 a.m. on August 15, 2018. It has been a great privilege to serve my community, neighbors and all the residents of Council District 16. I have truly enjoyed working with you, my fellow councilors and the fantastic staff at the council office.
Miller also issued this statement:
As many have likely seen, I entered a guilty plea today to “rude touch”, which is a lesser form of battery and I resigned my council position. I feel this plea, offered by the special prosecutor, is fair and just. My actions, while unintentional, were unwelcomed. I am terribly sorry for the impact this has had directly on those involved and indirectly on the community as a whole. A new council representative will be appointed in the next 30 days to represent the district, and in the meantime I will be happy to continue to help address concerns facing the district as well as complete issues in progress. I can’t thank you all enough for your support of me in the 2011 and 2015 elections and in all the days in between. My goal has always been to give you a voice and to fight with dogged determination to address the quality of life issues you have faced. It has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I will treasure it for years to come.
Council President Osili said Miller’s service on council will be remembered for his “tireless advocacy for his constituents, and the true passion he brought to serving Indianapolis,” adding that he respects Miller’s decision to resign.
Chairman Jim Merritt, who serves Marion and Hamilton counties, issued this statement regarding Miller’s resignation:
“While Miller’s resignation will not undo the harm he inflicted on his victims, it is the right thing to do. Public service is public trust, and Miller’s behavior is unacceptable, which is why we called on him to resign months ago. We will call for a caucus within the next thirty days to elect an individual to serve out his term.“
Kristin Jones, the only candidate running for the District 16 seat so far, issued this statement:
“Today’s news brings to close this troubling saga, and I hope this will allow attention to return to what this City-County Council seat should represent: a tireless advocate for the residents and neighborhoods of District 16.
As a long-time Southside resident and community activist, I know that leadership and engagement starts at the grassroots level, and we must provide our neighborhood organizations with the resources and support they need to chart their own destiny. I also know that we need a Councillor who will continue to fight for much-needed investments that allow us to take advantage of the momentum we’ve experienced in recent years.
The residents of District 16 work best when they work together, and I look forward to uniting our neighborhoods around a platform of community investment.”