Hill not participating in appeal of case stemming from sexual misconduct allegations

Three of the four women who in 2018 accused former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill of sexual misconduct are appealing the dismissal of their Title VII claims against the state, but Hill has declined to participate in the appeal.

In a Sept. 16 response to a show cause order, Hill indicated that the issues on appeal in DaSilva, et al. v. Indiana, et al., 20-2238, do not relate to him in his individual capacity. Thus, he said, he did not file an appellee’s brief and does not intend to participate in oral arguments before the court in December.

Former Indiana legislative staffers Gabrielle McLemore Brock, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano first sued Hill in 2019 after alleging that at a legislative party in 2018 the former AG inappropriately touched them in a sexual manner without their consent.

The women also sued the state, arguing it could be held liable for Title VII violations as their “employer.” But the Indiana Southern District Court disagreed, dismissing those claims.

The three women are now appealing to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals,  arguing that treating the state as their employer is the “only way to ensure that all employees of the State of Indiana, working in any branch of government, are protected in a consistent, compliant, and uniform manner … .”

The state filed its brief on Sept. 3 after the women filed their initial brief in June. On Sept. 14, Hill was ordered to show cause as to why the appeal should not be submitted without his participation.

“The issues presented and the relief requested in the Plaintiffs-Appellants’ Brief are directed only to the interests of the remaining Defendants, and not Hill,” his lawyer, Geoffrey G. Giorgi of Giorgi & Bebekoski in Crown Point, wrote in a response, adding that Hill himself agreed with the decision not to participate. “As there is no issue before this Court that impacts or relates to the underlying action involving Curtis T. Hill, in his individual capacity, an Appellee’s brief by Hill would not serve a purpose in the appellate process and therefore was not filed.”

On Sept. 17, the 7th Circuit discharged the show cause order and ordered that the appeal would be submitted for decision without Hill’s participation via briefing or oral argument. Any appellants’ reply brief is due Oct. 5.

Oral arguments between the state and the three women have been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 2, with each side limited to 15 minutes.

After the Title VII claims against the state were dismissed, Brock, DaSilva and Lozano — as well as former state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, who has also accused Hill of sexual misconduct — amended their complaint to also the name the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate as defendants in their capacities as the former staffers’ employers. They also filed state-law claims against Hill.

But Hill was terminated as a defendant in June 2020, leaving only the Title VII allegations against the House and Senate. Because Reardon’s claims related only to Hill and not the other defendants, she was terminated as a plaintiff and is not a party to the federal appeal.

The state-law claims were dismissed without prejudice and are now being pursued  in Marion Superior Court 12. A jury trial in that case, McLemore, et al. v. Hill, 49D12-2007-CT-022288, has been scheduled for September 2022.

The three women are represented by Jeselskis Brinkerhoff and Joseph LLC in Indianapolis, while the state is represented by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. The House and Senate are represented by Jackson Lewis PC.

In the fallout from the sexual misconduct allegations, Hill’s law license was temporarily suspended last year, and he lost his bid for reelection in 2020 when the Indiana GOP put its support behind now-Attorney General Todd Rokita. 

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