A graduate of Indiana University and Indiana University School of Law, Hill was a lawyer in private practice and part-time prosecutor until 2002, when he was elected Elkhart County prosecutor. He was reelected to the post, ultimately serving four terms before his election as state attorney general. In 2018, Hill was accused of sexual misconduct by four women, prompting calls for his resignation. Hill has denied the allegations. A subsequent investigation by a special prosecutor found the allegations credible but “…that there was no crime that could be proven.”
Early life and education
Hill grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, the youngest son of Curtis Hill Sr. (a postal worker and civil rights activist) and Eleanor (a cosmetologist). Hill studied business at Indiana University and received his law degree from Indiana University School of Law.
Hill was a lawyer in private practice and a part-time prosecutor until 2002, when he was elected as county prosecutor for Elkhart County in Northern Indiana. Hill was re-elected to a further three terms. Like all Elkhart County prosecutors since 1938, Hill was elected as a Republican. Hill was recruited by National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Cole to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, but he declined to run.
Indiana Attorney General
In 2016, Hill ran as a Republican for Indiana attorney general, seeking to succeed Greg Zoeller, who did not seek reelection. Hill ran against former Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo, the Democratic nominee. Hill significantly outspent Arredondo in the race.
On November 8, 2016, Hill defeated Arredondo, receiving 1,643,689 votes (61.94%) to Arredondo’s 994,085 votes (38.06%).
As attorney general, Hill was viewed as a rising star within the Republican Party. He has frequently tweeted on national issues, and was speculated as a potential future candidate for U.S. Senate. As attorney general, Hill promoted conservative, and particularly socially conservative, policies. He opposed efforts to downplay opposition to same-sex marriage in the state Republican Party’s platform. Hill also met with President Donald Trump at the White House on at least four occasions to discuss various issues. Hill opposes the legalization of marijuana in Indiana and medical marijuana; in November 2017, Hill issued an official advisory opinion declaring the use of cannabidiol oil illegal in Indiana. Although a state law passed in April 2018 legalized the possession and use of a particular cannabidiol oil by persons registered with the Indiana Department of Health, Hill determinated that the selling or distributing CBD oil was still illegal “under any circumstances, and even individuals entitled to use CBD oil under state law still are prohibited by federal law from doing so.” The following year, the Indiana General Assembly overruled Hill’s opinion, passing new legislation reaffirming and expanding CBD’s legality in Indiana; the bill was passed 97-0 in the House and 36-11 in the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb.
Hill strongly opposes needle exchange programs, and successfully pressured Madison County to halt its program. He favors harsher penalties for drug offenses, and supported the use of civil forfeiture. In 2017, Hill filed an appeal from a U.S. district court decision holding that Indiana’s forfeiture law was a violation of the U.S. Constitution‘s due process clause. In 2017, Hill joined with other conservative attorneys general in a filing in the U.S. Supreme Court defending “stop-and-frisk” programs from constitutional challenge.
In August 2017, Hill was criticized by some state legislators for spending $279,000 in state funds for renovations to his office at the Indiana State House, and for spending almost $31,000 in state funds for the purchase of a large passenger van to serve as a mobile office. Hill’s office defended the expenditures.
As attorney general, Hill is leading a 17-state lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, seeking to strike down a Massachusetts state animal welfare law that would require eggs, pork and veal sold in Massachusetts “to come from animals raised with room to lie down and turn around without touching an enclosure” beginning in 2022. Under Hill, Indiana also sued California over a law that bars eggs sold in California from coming from battery cage hens.
In 2018, Hill filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, seeking to challenge a settlement between the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana that stopped the county from detaining people in Indianapolis based only on federal immigration agency requests and without a warrant or probable cause. Hill asserted that the settlement would endanger public safety.
In 2018, Hill objected to a consent degree to add additional early voting locations in Marion County. The decree, resulting from an agreement between Common Cause Indiana. the Indianapolis NAACP, and the county Election Board, resolved a voting rights lawsuit. The consent decree was approved over Hill’s objections by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who wrote: “The state’s lawyers may entertain what preferences they will, but violations of federal rights justify the imposition of federal remedies.” Hill was criticized for his intervention in the case by Common Cause, the NAACP, and the Election Board, as well as Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (a fellow Republican) who said that: “By his reckless action, the Attorney General has disrupted more than 18 months of productive bi-partisan conversations.”
Hill opposed the adoption of hate-crime laws (Indiana is one of five U.S. states without such laws). In 2019, Indiana adopted a bias-motivated crimes law, but the law’s failure to list gender identity, gender, or sex as specifically protected classes prompted criticism from anti-hate groups (such as the Anti-Defamation League, which termed the omissions “unacceptable”). Hill defended the new law in an op-ed.
In 2017, Hill staked out a public position regarding athletes who have protested police violence against black citizens. In an essay distributed to news outlets, Hill criticizing the players’ methods and message, writing that the number of instances of police brutality “is but a fraction of the number of black people murdered by black people” and that “(black-on-black violence) deserves the attention of every American.”
As attorney general, Hill has used personal email accounts to conduct private business, a practice that is not illegal, but is discouraged by experts in open government and cybersecurity. In documents produced to the Indianapolis Star following a public-records request made by the newspaper in July 2018, Hill’s office redacted personal email addresses. In March 2019, following a complaint by the Star, Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke H. Britt released an opinion stating that Hill’s office violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act by redacting “private email addresses embedded in otherwise disclosable public records.” Hill’s office refused to produce the names of the email addresses even after being notified by the Indiana Public Access Counselor that Hill’s office was in violation of the public-records laws, citing a different exemption as a reason to withhold the email addresses.
Sexual harassment allegations and investigations
In 2018, Hill was accused by multiple women of inappropriate sexual behavior in March 2018. Four women have accused Hill of groping them during a party at a bar on the last night of the Indiana General Assembly session, prompting an investigation by the Indiana Inspector General. At the request of General Assembly leadership, a law firm prepared a confidential memorandum dated June 2018 that summarized interviews with the woman; the memo was obtained by The Indianapolis Star and made public the following month. Of the four women, three have publicly come forward—State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon and two legislative staffers.
The accusations against Hill prompted calls for his resignation from top elected officials in the state, including fellow Republicans, such as Governor Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, and Senate leader David C. Long. Mike Braun, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2018, also called on him to resign. Hill said he would not resign, and denied allegations of misconduct. Republican attorney Jim Bopp set up a legal defense fund to cover costs of Hill’s defense.
In July 2018, a Marion Superior Court judge appointed Daniel Sigler to serve as special prosecutor investigating the allegations against Hill. The Marion County Prosecutor asked the court to make the appointment to avoid a conflict of interest, because Hill, in his capacity as state attorney general, is representing the county prosecutor’s office in civil litigation. Hill unsuccessfully sought to block the appointment of the special prosecutor. In October 2018, special prosecutor Sigler publicly announced the results of his investigation, concluding that the allegations of the accusers were “credible and true” but that there was not enough evidence to support a conviction for misdemeanor battery given the difficulties of proving Hill’s state of mind. Simultaneously with the release of Sigler’s findings, Inspector General Lori Torres released the results of his office’s investigation into Hill’s conduct the same day; the report was critical of Hill’s conduct on the night in question, but determined that Hill did not violate state ethics laws when using state resources to defend himself. Torres said that “the public and others will judge whether the evidence in this case disqualifies Hill from holding elected office in the future.”
In March 2019, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which oversees the ethical rules governing attorneys in the state, filed a complaint against Hill, alleging that he violated the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in acts of battery or sexual battery against the women. In a response, Hill said that the Supreme Court should not become involved in allegations against him.
- “History of the Prosecutor’s Office”. Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Elkhart County.
- No charges against Hill, but investigation reveals searing new details
- Elura Nanos, Indiana Attorney General Accused of Grabbing Women’s Buttocks, Law & Crime (July 4, 2018).
- “ATG: About Curtis T. Hill, Jr”. www.in.gov. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
- Hussein, Fatima (November 22, 2017). “A look at Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s first year in office”. Indianapolis Star.
- Tony Cook, Ryan Martin and Kaitlin Lange, No charges against Hill, but investigation reveals searing new details, Indianapolis Star (October 24, 2018).
- Niki Kelly. “Judge, prosecutor seek AG post”. Indiana Journal Gazette. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Kelly Kendall, Curtis Hill Is A Party of 1, Indianapolis Monthly (June 2018).
- Fatima Hussein (November 9, 2016). “Election results 2016: Curtis Hill elected Indiana attorney general”. Indystar.com.
- Rick Callahan, Indiana Attorney General race: two northern Indiana candidates, Associated Press (October 3, 2016).
- Indiana General Election, November 8, 2016, Indiana Secretary of State].
- Tony Cook, Ryan Martin & Kaitlin Lange, 4 women allege Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill touched them inappropriately at bar, Indianapolis Star (July 2, 2018).
- Tim Swarens, Curtis Hill talks pot, Elvis and a possible Senate bid, Indy Star (June 15, 2017).
- Indiana attorney general not ruling out GOP bid for Senate, Associated Press (August 9, 2017).
- Curtis Hill, Why I found that CBD oil is illegal, Indianapolis Star (December 14, 2017).
- Indiana Attorney General Official Opinion 2017-7 Re: Cannabidiol & HEA 1148, November 21, 2017.
- Dan Carden, Attorney general finds cannabidiol remains illegal in Indiana, despite law authorizing limited use, The Times of Northwest Indiana (November 22, 2017).
- Dan Carden, New Indiana law clarifies that CBD oil is legal for all Hoosiers to use, The Times of Northwest Indiana (March 21, 2018).
- Mike Emery, AG Curtis Hill says Wayne County exemplifies needle exchange dangers, Richmond Palladium-Item (June 21, 2018).
- Adam Wren, Does Indy Need A Needle Exchange Program?, Indianpolis Monthly (December 2017).
- Tony Cook, Attorney General Curtis Hill catches heat for spending on new van, office renovations, Indy Stat (August 16, 2017).
- Nick Janzen, Indiana To Fight Another Food Production Law, WFYI (December 17, 2017).
- Indiana AG Challenges Settlement Over Immigration Detentions, Associated Press (January 11, 2018).
- Mark Alesia and Holly V. Hays, Judge denies Curtis Hill’s challenge to agreement for early voting sites in Marion County, Indianapolis Star (August 10, 2018).
- Phil Cannelongo, Federal judge denies efforts by AG Curtis Hill to stop satellite voting agreement in Marion County, WTHR (August 9, 2018).
- Holly V. Hays, Curtis Hill draws criticism for ‘reckless’ challenge of early-voting case, Indianapolis Star (August 8, 2018).
- AG Curtis Hill: New hate crimes law protects everyone, WTHR (April 9, 2019).
- “THE NFL’S OPPORTUNITY TO STAND”. WPTA. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Ryan Martin, Curtis Hill is breaking state record laws by keeping his email address secret, Indianapolis Star (April 11, 2019).
- “Indiana attorney general accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by multiple women”. Fox News. July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
- Ethan May, Tony Cook and Ryan Martin, Attorney General Curtis Hill: What we know about allegations of inappropriate touching, Indianapolis Star (July 6, 2018).
- Aide to Bremen state senator becomes third woman to publicly accuse Curtis Hill of groping, South Bend Tribune (July 13, 2018).
- Tony Cook & Kaitlin Lange (July 3, 2018). “Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill: ‘I am not resigning’ over groping allegations”. IndyStar.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- “Senate candidate Mike Braun calls for Indiana AG to resign”. WNDU. Associated Press. July 10, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
- Ryan Martin, Kaitlin Lange and Tony Cook, Special prosecutor appointed for Curtis Hill investigation — and it’s not his first rodeo, Indianapolis Star (July 25, 2018).
- Tony Cook, Special prosecutor sought in Curtis Hill groping investigation, Indianapolis Star (July 25, 2018).
- Mark Alesia, Curtis Hill’s attempt to block special prosecutor is ‘plainly wrong,’ Terry Curry says, Indianapolis Star (July 25, 2018).
- Tony Cook, Ryan Martin & Kaitlin Lange, Complaint could cost Attorney General Curtis Hill his law license — and elected position, Indianapolis Star (March 15, 2019).
- Kaitlin Lange & Ryan Martin, Curtis Hill says Supreme Court shouldn’t get involved in allegations against him, Indianapolis Star (March 22, 2019).
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