Senate staffer speaks about Curtis Hill accusations of inappropriate touching, Indianapolis, Monday, July 9, 2018. Robert Scheer/IndyStar
Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for the Indiana Senate Democrats, said she was disappointed Monday as she watched Attorney General Curtis Hill double down on denying allegations of wrongdoing.
McLemore, along with three other women, have accused Hill of inappropriately touching them at a bar following the close of the legislative session in March. McLemore went public with her allegations on Friday.
“He’s put out four statements,” McLemore said. “He’s had four chances now or more to tell his side of the story, but all he’s done is deny it. He hasn’t said what happened when he was at the bar.”
McLemore, 23, has seen reader comments on her written narrative published by IndyStar in which she accused Attorney General Curtis Hill of touching her inappropriately.
She knows what Hoosiers think of her — the good and the bad. She said she’s thankful that most of the comments are giving her hope that the conversation around sexual misconduct is changing.
McLemore was the second woman to publicly come forward Friday to accuse Hill of inappropriately touching her at a party to celebrate the end of the legislative session at AJ’s Lounge.
The allegations were first laid out in a confidential memo that detailed four women’s accusations that Hill touched them inappropriately. IndyStar first reported the contents of the memo on July 2. McLemore later identified herself as one of those women in a Friday op-ed.
Hill has flatly and repeatedly denied the allegations. During a press briefing Monday, he said his reputation has been “dragged through the gutter” and that he hasn’t been given due process.
Following the press briefing, McLemore explained in an interview with IndyStar why she came forward and described the attention she’s received because of it.
McLemore originally planned to remain anonymous. As a communications director, she fielded questions from reporters all week following the leak of a memo detailing allegations against Hill before she decided to come forward herself. She said she was inspired by Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon’s decision to go public with her allegations and by Hill’s continuous denials.
“As a woman in (the Statehouse), you don’t want your name associated with something like that,” McLemore said of her initial decision to stay anonymous. “… I’m still a staffer, I’m not a legislator, I don’t have much ground to stand upon; I’m still starting my career…I don’t want this to come back and reflect negatively on me.”
Most of the attention she’s received since going public has been positive, she said. People she barely knows and random parents who read her op-ed, have been reaching out, praising her for being courageous. One father wrote to her and said he wanted his son to read it, so he could see the topic from a woman’s perspective.
Others aren’t too pleased with her.
“Someone sent me an email and said that I needed to stop this public harassment of Curtis Hill and that I’m ruining his life,” McLemore said. “Someone sent me a message on Facebook telling me that I was a liar.”
In her op-ed, McLemore said that Curtis Hill approached her halfway through the evening and asked, ‘Do you know who I am?’
He then pulled up a stool next to her, cornered her and began rubbing her back without her permission, she said. She recalled feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed and worried about what others would think.
She said she mouthed “help me” to her female intern, who suggested they go to the restroom, in order to get out of the situation.
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Candelaria Reardon has accused Hill of groping her buttocks at the party. Two other women also alleged inappropriate touching at the party, according to the confidential memo.
While Hill denied the allegations at his morning press briefing, he declined to take questions.
He said he was condemned without “any basic rights that ensure fairness.” Hill also said the allegations have damaged his reputation.
McLemore said Hill has had the opportunity to defend himself, through his statements to the press.
The Rally to Support Victims of Curtis Hill comes about a week after IndyStar broke the news that four women — a lawmaker and three staffers — accused Hill of inappropriate touching.
Robert Scheer, IndyStar
She said the most challenging part of going public was processing her mom’s reaction to the op-ed. Her mother only found out after her op-ed was published.
“My heart breaks for her,” McLemore said as her voice broke. “I never wanted to put her in this position. No mom should ever have to see their daughter come publicly out about a sexual assault. I feel like I hurt her, and I shouldn’t feel like that.”
McLemore said she thinks Hill should step down, but she also wants the conversation to be broader than just this circumstance.
“I want this to be a much larger conversation about sexual assault as a whole and what we can to make sure things like this don’t happen again, whether it’s with elected officials or some random person you met at a bar,” McLemore said. “We need to end this. This can’t keep happening.”
IndyStar reporters Tony Cook and Ryan Martin contributed to this story.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.
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