By Brynna Sentel
INDIANAPOLIS—Gov. Eric Holcomb reaffirmed that he believes the four women who say they were inappropriately touched by Attorney General Curtis Hill last March.
Holcomb held an impromptu press availability Friday after delivering a short speech to the American Legion Department of Indiana state convention on the eastside of Indianapolis where he spoke about the state’s commitment to veterans.
But the focus was on the growing controversy surrounding the attorney general and the allegations that he touched four women in an inapproripriate way at a downtown Indianapolis bar on the last night of the regular legislative session.
Three of the four women who made allegations against Hill have told their stories in letters to The Indianapolis Star, which first reported the story. The women include both Republicans and Democrats.
Hill has been called on to resign by leaders of both political parties, including Holcomb, and he has rejected the idea. Hill has repeatedly maintained the accusations are false.
“If you believe the women as I do and if you have the standard that I do, I had no other option than to hold everyone to the same standard,” Holcomb said. When he announced in March that he was implementing sexual harassment training for employees, the governor said he has a zero tolerance policy for that kind of behavior.
Holcomb, in declining to say whether Hill should be impeached should he refuse to resign, reiterated that the investigation is in hands of the state’s inspector general.
“I am encouraged that it is in the right hands with the inspector general, she will complete an independent, fair and full investigation and we will have have to wait to see what comes next from her report, of course, with the assistance of a special prosecutor,” Holcomb said. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, in whose jurisdiction the alleged incidents occurred, has asked for a special prosecutor who will work with the inspector general.
On Thursday, after the third woman went public and described her encounter with the attorney general in detail, Hill issued a press release attacking the woman and implying she was part of a conspiracy against him. That press release was then automatically tweeted out by the IN.gov Twitter page, unleashing responses from dozens of people furious that the site would be used to attack one of Hill’s accusers.
The state has stopped automatic tweets from the site and officials are exploring the next steps to take, including whether the tweet can be removed from the IN.gov site.
When asked whether he believes it is appropriate for Hill to use the state’s resources to defend himself and disparage the women, Holcomb said that will be part of the inspector general’s investigation.
Holcomb said he wants to remain positive: “There is so much good going on in the state of Indiana and that’s what we are going to focus on.”
Brynna Sentel is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.