Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler of Fort Wayne has completed his investigation into allegations of inappropriate touching by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and has decided not to pursue prosecution.
He made his findings public at a 10 a.m. news conference Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Four women, including one lawmaker, accused Hill of drunkenly groping them at a party in March. At least two of the women said Hill reached under their clothes and grabbed their buttocks. The others said Hill made them uncomfortable with similar inappropriate physical contact.
Sigler said there were two potential charges, sexual battery and simple battery. He said the charge of sexual battery was never under serious consideration because it requires the use of force and Sigler felt that could not be proven.
As for the potential charge of simple battery, Sigler said that involves rude, insolent or angry touching with intent and he didn’t feel he could prove Hill acted in that manner.
“The investigation was thorough and fair, and provided a significant amount of witness input and documentary evidence to make an adequate assessment,” said Sigler. “That assessment concludes that the findings did not demonstrate the crucial elements needed to support a conviction of battery or sexual battery under the law.”
Sigler said the incidents took place at a downtown Indianapolis bar at around 2:30 a.m. and most of the 56 or so witnesses were not questioned for weeks which resulted in varying degrees of recollections of the events that occurred.
“The setting of this lent itself to problems prosecuting,” Sigler said at a news conference in Indianapolis. “It was in a bar. It was in the early morning hours. Free alcohol was being served and flowing.”
As for the victims, Sigler believes their claims of being touched inappropriately were credible.
Hill’s private attorneys James Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer praised the prosecutor’s decision not to bring criminal charges against Hill.
The decision “exonerates and absolves Mr. Curtis Hill of any factual and legal criminal behavior,” they said in a statement.
Attorney Kimberly Jeselskis, who represents a female state lawmaker and three legislative staffers who say Hill groped them, said that the women filed a tort claim with the state of Indiana that is required before the state can be sued. The women plan to sue Hill, the state of Indiana and the attorney general’s office.
Sigler said Hill hasn’t denied the touching occurred, but that the attorney general said it was incidental in a crowded bar and “not intended to be disrespectful, sexual in nature or rude.”
Hill has denied that he drank alcohol to excess at the party, however Sigler viewed the consumption to be “significant.”
Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres issued the following statement following Sigler’s announcement:
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.”
Several lawmakers and state leaders, including Governor Eric Holcomb have called for Hill to resign in the wake of the accusations. Hill adamantly denied that he engaged in any inappropriate behavior and refused to step down from his position.
One of those lawmakers was Sen. David Long who issued the following statement after the completion of th investigation:
I appreciate the thorough work performed by the Inspector General and the Special Prosecutor, and I respect their conclusions. I believed the women who came forward with reports of misconduct were telling the truth in May, and I believe them now. The Attorney General’s behavior that night toward the women involved is unacceptable.
“Hoosiers expect better from the people they elect to represent them in state government, especially when the individual involved is the chief law enforcement officer for the state of Indiana. I called for the Attorney General to step down in July, and I continue to believe that is the right thing for him to do. However, it appears that he has no intention to do so, and that is his decision alone to make at this time. The people of Indiana will have the final say in this matter.”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also released the following statement Tuesday:
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.”
In July, a Marion County judge appointed Sigler to review the state inspector general’s findings and determine whether Hill should face criminal charges.
Legal observers have suggested that Hill could be removed from office if he is found to have violated the state court’s code of professional conduct.