INDIANAPOLIS — Many Indiana lawmakers have made comments belittling or making light of the sexual misconduct claims against Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, a lawsuit filed by the accusers alleges.
The alleged sexual misconduct happened in the early morning hours of March 15, 2018, at a party celebrating the end of the legislative session at A.J's Bar in Indianapolis. Hill has denied any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims the four accusers, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster; Niki DaSilva, legislative assistant for the Indiana Senate Republicans; Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for the Indiana Senate Democrats; and Samantha Lozano, legislative assistant for the Indiana House Democrats, were retaliated against and defamed by Hill and the state of Indiana.
The lawsuit mentions many examples of Hill responding to the sexual misconduct claims, then gives a few examples of comments made by other lawmakers.
In the summer of 2018, Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, was with a fellow senator discussing the alleged misconduct when “Several Legislative Assistants” heard Leising say the accusers got what they deserved because of how they were dressed, or words to that effect, the lawsuit states.
On Nov. 7, 2018, the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus held a meeting with senior staff, the lawsuit states. It says the members of the staff were asked to leave, including McLemore. While waiting, McLemore heard Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, speaking to the other members, saying that the allegations were “turning into an exposé on the men at the Sine Die Celebration,” because they didn’t do anything to stop Hill.
On Jan. 24, 2019, Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, walked up to DaSilva and put her hand on her shoulder. According to the lawsuit, she then asked DaSilva if it was OK, or she should ask for permission. Tallian then said if she were gay, it wouldn’t be sexual harassment, the lawsuit states.
In the spring of 2019, Reardon was at a work-related event with House Speaker Brian Bosma and Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Elkhart, the lawsuit claims. At the event, Doriot said, “What are we supposed to do when these women wear a black bra under a white blouse, not look?” Bosma told Doriot he should never say that again, according to the lawsuit. Reardon then walked away.
Lastly, on April 24, 2019, the last day of the legislative session, McLemore met with Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne. GiaQuinta asked Lanane if he wants to get out early to “make it to AJ’s by 9.” According to the lawsuit, Lanane then responded by saying, “only if Curtis is going to be there!”
The accusers are asserting claims under federal law including sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and constitutional equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They are also asserting claims for battery, defamation, and invasion of privacy.
They are requesting injunctive relief, for Hill to apologize for his claims and monetary damages to be determined later.
The Office of the Attorney General issued the following response to the lawsuit:
Attorneys from the Office of the Attorney General filed their appearances to defend vigorously the State of Indiana and the Attorney General in a lawsuit filed today captioned DaSilva, et al. v. State of Indiana, et al. The lawsuit is related to allegations that have now been reviewed four times. The investigations all concluded without any recommendations for further action.
This latest legal action will be addressed in the court and through the proper procedures as established by law.
Under Indiana law, the Office of the Attorney General shall defend all suits instituted against the state and its officials.
RTV6 reached out to all lawmakers who are alleged to have made a comment about the accusers or the allegations. All declined comment on what was found in the documents.