Editor's Note: This is an op-ed by Niki DaSilva, the third person to go public with accusations against Attorney General Curtis Hill. DaSilva is a legislative assistant with the Indiana State Senate. Hill has denied all accusations. Read more coverage of the accusations against him at the bottom of the op-ed.
It has been a little over a week since the story broke about the Attorney General’s behavior at AJ’s Lounge this past March, and I’ve been following it closely. It’s a funny thing to watch your story be told by others, to be put on display, to be twisted and paraphrased and to have assumptions made about your intentions.
I cannot blame the public for this, or even the media for that matter, because they were not there for the incident. But I was there, at AJ’s Lounge, and so was the Attorney General, Curtis Hill.
If you’ve read the memo, you may know me as “Employee A.”
My real name, however, is Niki DaSilva and I’ve worked for the Senate Republican Caucus for the past three years.
I started as an intern during my last full semester at IUPUI, where I served two terms as the Student Body President. Campus safety was a pillar of my tenure and I worked tirelessly as a staunch advocate for eradicating sexual violence on college campuses through the It’s On Us campaign.
After Sine Die, the end of the legislative session, I headed to AJ’s with several of my co-workers. When I arrived, I walked toward the bar to join three of my female colleagues. We were chatting while waiting to be served when the Attorney General, Curtis Hill, approached us. I was surprised to see him there, as Sine Die is meant to be a celebration among legislators, staff and lobbyists of the work from the last three to four months.
Attorney General Hill seemed rather gregarious that night and asked us what we were doing standing at the bar. We answered that we were waiting to order a drink and Attorney General Hill, without hesitation, remarked, “Ah, come on ladies! You haven’t figured out how to get a drink yet? You’ve got to show a little skin!”
In that moment, my mouth fell open. I was stunned that the Attorney General had told me to “show a little skin.”
I turned to my colleagues and asked them to confirm what I could not believe my ears had heard. They acknowledged both verbally and through nodding that he did indeed tell us to show some skin. Slightly irritated but not wanting to cause a fuss, I moved around the corner of the bar top in order to put some distance between myself and the hovering Attorney General.
After receiving their drinks, two of the women left leaving myself and the other co-worker at the bar with the Attorney General. I was getting ready to leave and join another group when I observed my co-worker’s eyes widen, signaling me to come closer. When I approached, she whispered, “Please don’t leave me alone with him. He’s being really weird.”
I couldn’t leave her there alone so I positioned myself between the co-worker and the Attorney General to act as a buffer. After a few moments, Attorney General Hill put his hand on my back. I was taken aback by this gesture as we had never held a conversation before that night. I felt his hand start to slide slowly down my back. I didn’t want to bring attention to his actions so I tried to push his hand away inconspicuously using my free hand.
When our hands met, instead of taking this nudge as a cue to remove his hand from my lower back, he grabbed my hand and moved both of our hands over my butt, lingering there before releasing me. He looked at me with a grin on his face and continued the conversation. Luckily, soon after that, my co-worker and I found an escape route and moved from the area.
I was ashamed and frustrated.
How could a man that did not even know my name feel like it was appropriate to put his hands on my back, or anywhere else on my body for that matter. Over the next few days, I mentioned the incident here and there but realized that while most people thought it was unacceptable, no one, including myself, thought that anything would happen if we tried to address it.
This is the Attorney General we are talking about here. The highest law enforcement officer in the state. How do you hold someone like that accountable.
On May 15th, Representative Candeleria-Reardon, knowing I had been at AJ’s that evening, told me that she had filed a complaint with the Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, and she wanted to support anyone else who may have been in a similar situation.
This was the first time I felt like anyone was taking this seriously, and it was the first time I realized that it had not only happened to me. He had been doing these things to multiple women throughout the night. When Senator Long was informed of what had happened, he immediately called Speaker Bosma to address the situation. From there, they began the interviewing process.
When I was interviewed by our caucus leadership they wanted to know my account of the night as well as what I would like done moving forward. They let me know that they would support any decisions I made and would respect my wishes. I believe that our legislative leadership, in all four caucuses, has done just that.
To my knowledge, none of those involved wanted to make this a public ordeal. What we wanted was for the Attorney General to recognize the inappropriateness of his behavior and for steps to be taken to ensure that these sort of incidents would not happen in the future. The legislative leadership was not trying to hide the investigation in order to save face.
They were keeping the internal investigation confidential because that was what we, the victims, had asked for.
When the memo was leaked, the House and Senate leaders, who had promised us this confidentiality, were furious, and rightfully so. They had given us their word and now someone had taken the liberty to break those vows without consent. At first, I too was upset and it left me wondering what would happen next.
In hindsight, it seems that this is exactly what needed to happen.
There is an obvious difference in the way the Attorney General and I, along with the other women, have interpreted these incidents, and his response gives little indication of any remorse for how his choices have impacted others. He has claimed that our stories are false and denied any wrongdoing. He blames us for remaining anonymous and trying to smear his good name. His supporters have called this a witch hunt on a strong “rising star” in the Republican Party.
Let me be clear: This is not a witch hunt, nor is it a political issue. This is an issue of respect, safety and basic human rights. Regardless of political party, gender, how you are dressed or what environment the situation occurred in, sexual harassment is never acceptable.
The inappropriate and inexcusable behaviors exhibited by Attorney General Hill were experienced by multiple women of both political parties, from both chambers and in varying positions within the legislature.
Individually, our stories may cause doubt in some minds. However, when these stories are weaved together they stand as a strong testament to a deliberate pattern of unacceptable behavior.
Attorney General Hill stated that a week ago he had a name. I believe that he still has a name and it is up to him to define it.
I’d like to close by saying that at the end of the day there is one point the Attorney General and I agree on in this situation: All people are deserving of respect and of due process. I too welcome the independent investigation by the Inspector General.