Federal judge dismisses sexual harassment lawsuit against Curtis Hill
The four women, including state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, allegedly groped two years ago by Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. do not have sufficient grounds to sue him and the state for sexual harassment and discrimination, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted motions to dismiss after concluding Hill was not civilly liable for his behavior under federal law because he neither employed, nor supervised the women he allegedly harassed.
Magnus-Stinson did not mince words in describing Hill’s conduct at the March 15, 2018, party celebrating the end of the annual legislative session as “highly offensive,” “disgraceful and reprehensible.”
But she said the women all were employed by the General Assembly, not the attorney general, and the lack of an employment relationship between the women and Hill means their federal sexual harassment claims cannot proceed.
“Here, where Attorney General Hill was not plaintiffs’ employer or supervisor, was not even a co-worker, and in fact worked in a separate branch of the state government, there simply is not a relationship akin to the employer/employee relationship that warrants extending the contours of an Equal Protection claim to the circumstances presented in this case,” Magnus-Stinson said.
The judge said the women still may have valid civil claims against Hill for battery, defamation and false light invasion of privacy.
However, Magnus-Stinson said those claims must be brought in state court, not federal.
The JBJ Legal attorneys representing the women said afterward they are reviewing the ruling and weighing next steps.
“We are confident our clients’ case will proceed and their claims will be heard,” they said.
A request for comment on the judge’s ruling from Hill’s legal team at the Crown Point firm of Giorgi and Bebekoski was not immediately returned Monday night.