Attorney General takes the stand to defend self before disciplinary commission

Data pix.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill took the stand in his hearing before the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

The Commission has filed a complaint that Hill violated the rules governing attorneys in the State of Indiana when he was accused of drunkenly groping four women at an Indianapolis bar in the late winter of 2018.

Hill has denied the allegations and a special prosecutor refused to file criminal charges.

Commission Counsel Seth Pruden called Hill to testify about his role as Attorney General and to introduce several emails, press releases and media stories related to the scandal.

Three statehouse staffers and State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon accused Hill of battery and sexual battery as he allegedly touched them in an inappropriate manner while attending a party to celebrate the end of the General Assembly’s legislative sessions at AJ’s Lounge just south of downtown Indianapolis early on the morning of March 15, 2018.

Pruden won a challenge when Hearing Officer Myra Selby allowed the State to call a Victim’s Advocate who worked for Hill while he served as the Elkhart County Prosecutor in 2016.

The woman said in the weeks before his election as Attorney General in November of that year, Hill began making inappropriate comments which later led to an outright suggestion that she enter into a sexual relationship with him.

The woman said she downplayed Hill’s suggestions which continued after he was sworn in as A.G. in early 2017 and were raised once again on March 16, 2018, the day after the statehouse women claimed Hill assaulted them at the bar.

Pruden argued that the woman’s testimony was relevant to demonstrate Hill’s pattern of behavior.

The State later called Hill to the stand and he described his role as Attorney General as the lawyer for the people of Indiana and its governmental agencies.

One of those agencies is the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency which oversees the certification of various Indiana professionals.

Hill’s attorneys have argued the Commission is overreaching its authority by filing a complaint against the Attorney General for personal behavior that occurred outside the scope of his elected duties.

Various witnesses have described the so-called Sine Die party after the closure of the legislative session as an official activity as it attracts lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers who, they testified, often review the General Assembly’s recent work with an eye on the future.

A source told Fox 59 News that at one point last fall, Hill considered seeking State reimbursement of his legal expenses by claiming he was on duty when the alleged incidents occurred.

During the afternoon session, defense attorneys called lawmakers and lobbyists who said they observed Hill at the bar and, while they noted his alcohol consumption, testified he did not appear to be intoxicated and was not spotted assaulting the women who brought forth the charges listed in the complaint.

Hill’s attorney, Dan Lundberg, in an opening statement Monday, indicated that the Attorney General was expected to testify on his own behalf.

As the State rested late this afternoon, the defense will continue presenting more witnesses Thursday.

Upon conclusion of the presentation of witnesses and evidence, Former Supreme Court Justice Selby will take the case under advisement to determine if Hill committed any rules violations and, if so, what penalties he could face from private reprimand to disbarment.

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