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Investigation of Indiana AG to be assisted by special prosecutor

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on July 9, 2018. Hill is rejecting calls to resign, saying his name "has been dragged through the gutter" amid allegations that he inappropriately touched a lawmaker and several other women. The Republican said during the news conference that he stands "falsely and publicly accused of abhorrent behavior." | AP Photo/Michael Conroy

INDIANAPOLIS — A special prosecutor will help Indiana’s government watchdog investigate allegations that state Attorney General Curtis Hill drunkenly groped a lawmaker and three legislative staffers, and eventually determine if Hill faces criminal charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry filed a motion Tuesday seeking a special prosecutor — a request promptly approved by a county judge. That prosecutor has not yet been appointed.

Curry said he had to seek a special prosecutor because Hill’s office currently represents Marion County, the home to Indianapolis, in two pending civil cases. He said that in light of that legal entanglement it would be “inappropriate” for his office to handle any prosecution of Hill.

“Quite simply I am a client of the Attorney General’s office,” Curry, a Democrat, said during a news conference. “It would be entirely inappropriate for our office then to turn around and participate in a criminal investigation of the attorney general.”

Indiana’s Inspector General Lori Torres said Friday that her office is investigating the claims that Hill, a Republican, drunkenly groped four women at an Indianapolis bar early on March 15, at a party celebrating the end of the legislative session. Torres said Republican and Democratic leaders asked her to launch an investigation, and she promised a “full and fair review.”

Curry said he expected that a special prosecutor would be appointed within 30 days. That prosecutor will review Torres’ eventual findings and determine whether Hill will face criminal charges.

An internal legislative memo leaked to media outlets states that a female lawmaker and three legislative staffers allege Hill drunkenly groped them during a March party in Indianapolis. Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and Gabrielle McLemore, the Indiana Senate Democrats’ communications director, say they were among the victims.

Hill has denied the allegations and called them “vicious and false.” On Monday, he rebuffed growing calls for him to resign.

On Friday, Hill called for Curry’s office to conduct its own investigation, arguing that the investigation by Torres’ office would not be “fair and independent.”

Curry said that under Indiana law, the state’s inspector general has the authority “to investigate matters arising out of state government and state employees,” including criminal investigations.

He declined to comment about the allegations against Hill or whether he should resign.

“My only observation is that Attorney General Hill is correct as it relates to criminal matters and that is that he’s presumed innocent until proven guilty. At this point the process will have to play out to determine whether anyone’s committed any crime here, or not,” Curry said.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Statehouse GOP leaders last week called on Hill to resign. And dozens of protesters rallied for his resignation Saturday outside the Statehouse.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun on Tuesday also said Hill should resign, calling the allegations “troubling and serious.”

Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, who urged Hill to resign last Thursday, is facing Braun in what’s expected to be one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races.