Attorney: No plans to use public funds to defend Curtis Hill

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill returns to his desk following a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Monday, 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 (AP) — Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s private attorney said he doesn’t plan to take any public funds to defend Hill against any discrimination or civil claims eventually filed by a lawmaker and three legislative staffers who say Hill drunkenly groped them at a party in March.

Employment attorney Kevin Betz told The Indianapolis Star he won’t take state money, despite a draft of the contract that showed his firm, Betz + Blevins, would receive up to $100,000 in public money to represent Hill and the attorney general’s office. Betz, a longtime friend of Hill’s, would receive $550 an hour under the draft contract, first disclosed by the Star .

“I do not plan to take any public money for representing the state of Indiana, Curtis T. Hill or the Office of the Attorney General as to any of the facts asserted in the four (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) charges,” Betz said.

Hill spokesman Chris Proffitt said Betz’s firm is representing the state free of charge against the claims that four women have filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“There is no legal action pending against Curtis Hill,” Proffitt noted. “The only filings, at this time, have been EEOC charges filed against the state of Indiana.”

A special prosecutor declined in October to pursue any criminal charges against Hill , despite a state report that witnesses said Hill touched the women inappropriately during the March party at an Indianapolis bar. Hill has denied groping the four women, including Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon.

So far, Hill hasn’t used any public funds to defend himself, instead drawing on campaign money and creating a legal defense fund.

While public officials do use taxpayer funds to defend themselves in lawsuits related to acts that happened while they were acting in the capacity of a state employee, using such funds would be difficult to justify in Hill’s case, said Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University law professor who studies sexual harassment.

“It’s perfectly understandable for Hoosiers to pick up the bill when a state employee is doing something they were supposed to be doing,” she said. “When Curtis Hill goes into a bar and (inappropriately touches women), that is nowhere near what he is supposed to be doing. I don’t know why taxpayers should be paying for it.”

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