No criminal charges being filed against AG Curtis Hill; accusers pursuing civil claim

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler said Tuesday morning that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will not face criminal charges in connection with groping allegations.

Hill is accused of groping four women at an Indianapolis bar in March. The Republican has denied the allegations and rejected calls to resign from the Republican governor and legislative leaders.

A Marion County judge appointed Sigler, a Democrat, to handle the investigation to determine if charges are warranted. Sigler was the special prosecutor who won then-Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s conviction on voter fraud charges in 2012.

Sigler said he decided against pursuing criminal charges against Hill because of "insufficient evidence of Hill’s intent to touch the victims in a rude, insolent or angry manner to constitute a battery, and a lack of evidence of force with respect to the statutory requirements of sexual battery.”

Hill denies any wrongdoing and says he’s been falsely accused.

During a news conference Tuesday morning, Sigler said he didn't personally interview Hill. Instead, the attorney general delivered a statement via video and was given follow-up questions. Sigler acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the case, saying he had "to invent procedures" in order to investigate allegations against a sitting attorney general.

Sigler pointed to the lack of video evidence and the inability to establish a timeline as factors in his decision not to pursue charges against Hill.

"It would be a tough case to prove. It would be an expensive case," Sigler said. "What is the benefit of going forward with this to get a result?"

Sigler said the investigation showed Hill had likely consumed a "significant" amount of alcohol, having had drinks before heading to the bar and then drinking more once he got there. He also said Hill's accusers were credible. Hill himself did not deny touching the women during his statement, Sigler said. The investigation included interviews with 56 witnesses as well as other evidence.

"From [Hill's] statement, he does not deny touching [the women]," Sigler said. "There's no denial. There's disagreement about the extent of it."

From the report:

Although the special prosecutor determined that the requisite criminal intent and statutory elements were not present to file criminal charges of sexual battery or battery, Hill’s behavior at the sine die party at AJ’s is well documented. Multiple eyewitnesses provided statements that Hill’s conduct was inappropriate, “creepy”, unwelcome, and made many of the women at the party uncomfortable. Men and women from both parties, the political left and political right, provided accounts of what transpired that night. Many witnesses were lobbyists for particular industries and presumably have no particular allegiance to anything more than advancing their clients’ interests.

Although many of the witnesses said they did not see Hill interact with the women who made allegations against him, Hill was present at the party for more than three hours, the bar was crowded, and the interactions lasted from a few seconds to at most a few minutes.

As for Hill's accusers, the four of them stood and watched the special prosecutor's announcement. After Sigler's remarks concluded, they announced plans to seek civil action against the state, Hill and the Attorney General's Office, alleging defamation and discrimination, among other things. They have already taken the first steps in that process.

“While the findings of our investigation did reveal unacceptable behavior by a state officeholder, and which significantly impacted those affected, we respect the grounds on which Special Prosecutor Sigler made his decision,” said Inspector General Lori Torres.

Here is the inspector general's full report:

Hill's attorneys released a statement about the special prosecutor's findings:

The Special Prosecutor's investigation exonerates and absolves Mr. Curtis Hill of any factual and legal criminal behavior. Mr. Hill appreciates the diligence and thoroughness taken by Special Prosecutor Daniel J. Sigler in his investigation of his conduct on March 15, 2018, at Sine Die Party held at A.J.'s Lounge in Indianapolis, Indiana. We never doubted that Mr. Hill would be cleared of any alleged crimes. Special Prosecutor Sigler was charged with leading the investigation of the allegations and in doing so he worked closely with the Indiana Inspector General's Office as well as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Mr. Hill will continue to serve the people of Indiana in the capacity for which he was elected as the Indiana Attorney General.

--James Voyles and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody also weighed in:

I believe the women and believe Governor Holcomb’s statement in July, that there was ‘no other option’ but for Attorney General Hill to resign, is as appropriate today as it was then. Elected officials must be held to a higher standard and Hill’s actions are disqualifying at any level, let alone as the state’s top law enforcement officer. I am hopeful Governor Holcomb will echo his words from July and reaffirm his call for Hill to step aside. Any other action from the governor will serve to underscore a brewing culture of cronyism and corruption at the Statehouse.

Governor Eric Holcomb offered the following statement:

I said I believed the women who stepped forward to report sexual harassment by the Indiana Attorney General. The special prosecutor agreed and said, ‘I have accepted the victim statements as true. The findings show a disregard of the executive branch zero tolerance harassment policy. My position has not changed.

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