INDIANAPOLIS — A former employee of Attorney General Curtis Hill said Wednesday that Hill used a vulgarity to proposition her for sex shortly after he was elected in 2016.
The testimony was given by Kathleen Bowers, who worked for Hill when he was the Elkhart County prosecutor, on the third day of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission hearing on Hill. Hill's defense attorneys tried to block her from testifying, but they were overruled by Hearing Officer Myra C. Selby.
The hearing, expected to last all week, is to determine if Hill faces any legal discipline for accusations of sexual misconduct. The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether to impose a penalty, ranging from a reprimand to removal of Hill's law license. Hill has denied the allegations of inappropriate touching.
Bowers testified that she was a dancer at an Elkhart event that Hill attended. She said she enjoys ballroom, tap and jazz dancing.
After seeing her at the event, she said Hill would make comments about her dancing in September 2016. She said he told her about how he enjoyed her dancing and asked if he could get a dance lesson.
Bowers said the comments made her uncomfortable, but said if he was serious, they could discuss a possible lesson. She said he then asked if he could get one for free, and that the dance would “need to be hot.”
Bowers testified that Hill crossed a line a few months later. She said on Dec. 23, 2016, Hill visited her office and started discussing the dance lessons. At the time, Hill was less than a month away from being sworn in as Indiana attorney general.
“I recall saying something that he would be leaving soon, and I didn't know if we'd be able to,” Bowers said.
She said they kept bantering about the dancing lesson. She told him he would have to pay, but they could make the arrangement. But he said, again, that he wanted it for free.
At some point in the conversation, Bowers said she told him, “I don’t think we’re talking about dancing anymore.”
She said Hill responded by saying, “I don't think we were ever talking about dance.”
Bowers said from that point in the conversation, they were talking more clearly about sex.
At the end of their conversation, she said Hill leaned over the desk and said, “We should f---, because it would be hot.”
Bowers said she told him she was married, and if it got out, it would not go well for her. She said she never explicitly told him no because she was uncomfortable and felt like she needed to joke her way out of it.
Bowers also said Hill also called her office in January 2017, less than a month later. She said he asked if she had thought anymore about what he asked. She said she had, and her position hadn't changed.
She then said Hill called her office on March 16, 2018, the day after the Sine Die party at AJ’s Lounge and left a voicemail. The attorneys from the Indiana Disciplinary Commission played the voicemail, after the defense’s objections were overruled. In the voicemail, Hill asks her to call him and leaves a number.
Bowers testified that she returned the call because she was afraid he was going to come to her office. She said he asked if she had reconsidered what they discussed. She said her position had not changed and joked, "Don't call me, I'll call you."
Bowers said she didn't hear from him after that.
The defense attorney asked Bowers if she reported what Hill said to her to any of her supervisors or any federal agency, such as the EEOC.
She said no, later telling the Disciplinary Commission attorney she was afraid of the consequences if she reported the comments.
Other notes from Day 3 of the hearing:
Hill took the stand, called by the Disciplinary Commission. He was asked many questions about the organization and duties of the attorney general’s office. The commission attorney began asking Hill about a piece of evidence, but the court broke for lunch. Hill did not return to the stand on Wednesday.
The defense also called multiple witnesses throughout the morning and afternoon. Gwen Robinson, the owner of AJ’s Lounge. Robinson said nobody approached her to say Hill was overserved. She also said the maximum occupancy of the bar was 60 people, and there may have been a few more than that on the night of the party.
The defense called Michael Conway, a legislative assistant for Indiana Senate Republicans to be questioned. Conway said he saw Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, one of Hill’s accusers, dancing in front of the bar with a legislative intern for a lobbying firm. He called it a “flirtatious” dance. To that point, none of the other witnesses called had reported seeing Candelaria Reardon dancing that night. Conway also said he saw Hill at the party, but Hill was too intoxicated to respond.
The defense also called Reps. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville; Ryan Morrison, R-Brazil; and Jim Lucas, R-Seymour. Hatfield said he saw Candelaria Reardon at the party. He said she approached him and said something to the effect of, “Curtis Hill is a creep.” Morrison and Lucas both gave similar statements – that they didn’t specifically see Hill interacting with any of the four accusers.
Lastly, the defense called Tony Samuel, a local lobbyist. Samuel said he spent part of the evening with Hill, and they went to the party together. When asked if he saw Hill acting inappropriately, Samuel said, “Absolutely not.”
Samuel said Hill was slightly intoxicated but wouldn’t classify him as “drunk.” He said he didn’t see Hill interact with any of the accusers, and said “there would've been a buzz in the room” if it had happened.