Indiana attorney general accuser seeks easier removal path

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Monday, July 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana legislator who says she was groped at a bar by state Attorney General Curtis Hill wants to make it easier to remove some state officeholders from their positions.

Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster announced Friday the filing of a proposal for a 12-member oversight commission with the power to oust the attorney general for sexual misconduct. She also filed a bill that would prohibit elected officials from using public money for attorneys or settlements involving lawsuits alleging sexual assault, harassment or discrimination.

A special prosecutor declined in October to pursue any criminal charges against Hill, despite a state report that witnesses said the Republican attorney general inappropriately touched Candelaria Reardon and three female legislative staffers during a March party at an Indianapolis bar celebrating the end of the 2018 legislative session.

Hill has denied the allegations. His office didn't immediately reply to a request for comment on Candelaria Reardon's proposals.

Candelaria Reardon didn't mention Hill in a statement announcing the bills, saying they were meant to "send a clear message that people who sexually harass others will face the consequences of their actions."

"Through my own experience and through conversations with law enforcement officers and the public alike, it is clear that there are many loopholes in a system that should protect women and men from having to face sexual harassment in the workplace," she said.

Some Democrats have said they plan to seek Hill's impeachment and removal from office, although there have been questions about the Legislature's authority to do so since the attorney general's position was created under state law and not included in the Indiana Constitution. Candelaria Reardon's proposal would give the oversight commission such authority over the attorney general and state schools superintendent, the other statewide office not listed in the constitution.

Republican legislative leaders have said they don't expect lawmakers will take any actiontoward removing Hill from office even though Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of State Connie Lawson and House Speaker Brian Bosma — all Republicans — were among state leaders who said Hill should resign after the allegations became public in July.

Bosma said the bills "will be assigned to the appropriate committees for review. ... It will be up to the committee chairs to determine which bills will proceed further in the process."

Another of Candelaria Reardon's bills would create the crime of lewd touching for instances when someone intentionally rubs or fondles another person without consent. The proposal would make such a crime a misdemeanor, but it would become a felony if done under the threat or use of deadly force, by drugging the victim or committed by an elected officeholder.

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