AG Hill Threatens Libel Suit Over Groping Allegations

WITZ Radio News is an affiliate of Network Indiana 

INDIANAPOLIS - Attorney General Curtis Hill is threatening a libel suit over a memo accusing him of inappropriate touching -- but not against the women making the accusations.

Attorney Kevin Betz says Munster Representative Mara Candelaria-Reardon's published description of her encounter with Hill doesn't match the report prepared for legislative leaders. The report says Reardon accused Hill of twice sliding his hand under her dress to grab her behind, at a party at a downtown bar following the adjournment of the legislative session. An op-ed Reardon authored describes Hill sliding his hand down her back and grabbing her a single time. Betz concedes either action would be inappropriate, but contends the difference between the two is significant, and libelous.

Betz says he's not accusing Reardon or three other women of lying, nor is he taking issue with Blake Burgan, the outside attorney legislative leaders hired to assess the legislature's legal responsibility as the accusers' employer. He says a potential libel suit would target whoever leaked the report, and the person who wrote up the allegations for Burgan. It was a month after Reardon came forward that the report was issued, and Betz says to misstate the charge with that much time to investigate reflects the "reckless disregard for the truth" required for a libel verdict.

Betz says he believes Hill has a solid libel case, but says he wants to gather more information before going forward with the suit, including pressing legislators for the identities of the prospective defendants. He says calls for Hill's resignation from Governor Holcomb and legislative leaders in both parties amount to "hysteria."

Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres is reviewing the accusations and will present her findings to a special prosecutor for a decision on possible criminal charges.