Indiana Republican Party chair knew about sexual assault allegation against Diego Morales

The chair of the Indiana Republican Party has indicated he knew about a sexual assault allegation against Republican Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales for more than a month before it was published in a gossip column Friday.

Kyle Hupfer said in a statement that a Republican asked to meet with him two months after the party nominated Morales at the Republican convention in mid-June.

"At the meeting, she shared with me elements of a story that have now been made public," Hupfer said. "It wasn’t then, nor is it now, my story to share."

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Morales denied the allegations in a statement of his own Friday.

On Friday morning, political writer Abdul-Hakim Shabazz published interviews with two women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Morales years ago. The stories appeared in Shabazz's publication, the Cheat Sheet.

The allegations are the the latest controversy to touch Morales, who was nominated by Republican delegates at convention despite once being fired from the very office he now seeks. His military experience has also been scrutinized after he made it the focus of his campaign despite spending a total of just three months and 18 days on active duty as part of his training period.

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The first woman Shabazz interviewed said she is a lifelong Republican who has worked for numerous Republican candidates and the state party. She said Morales, whom she knew from working on a congressional campaign, repeatedly kissed her at his apartment in 2007 despite her actively refusing his advances both verbally and physically, Shabazz reported. He pinned her across the wall, she said, was "aggressively rubbing against her," and reached for her shirt before she could get away. She was 20 at the time.

"Never for a moment did I ever anticipate that my friend would do something like this," the woman said of Morales, according to Shabazz's report. "I trusted him. I believed that we were friends."

The second woman had a similar story: At age 22, she was working for the Secretary of State's Office when after a dinner with Morales, he invited himself up into her apartment and then repeatedly tried to kiss her. She told Shabazz she had to forcefully push him off her.

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"It never got physically worse than that, but what happened in the subsequent weeks at work was him continuing to suggest that I give him a chance," she told Shabazz. "It was a lot of that. It was a lot of manipulation."

Both women told the writer they are now supporting the campaign of Destiny Wells, Morales' Democratic opponent.

In a statement Friday, Morales denied the allegations: "As a husband and father, I understand sexual harassment is deplorable and can leave devastating scars. The claims being made against me are false and I unequivocally deny all of them."

"The women, who will not reveal their identity, cannot corroborate their stories," Morales said prior to Hupfer's release of his statement. "They have neither documentation nor sources to substantiate their defaming comments. The falsities stem from 15 years ago and were not brought forward until now. Being 39 days out from the election, the timing is clearly politically motivated, especially because the women mention being volunteers and supporters of my opponent."

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Morales noted the women's accusations were published via a publication with a disclaimer stating, "This is a compilation of pure gossip, rumor and blatant innuendo."

Hupfer also criticized the timing of the allegations being made public, although he didn't give an opinion on their veracity.

"Allegations like these should be fully and fairly vetted, and the accuser, accused, and voters deserve a process that allows for such," Hupfer said in his statement. "A political party is not an investigatory or judicial body, as parties lack the means and mechanisms to review these types of allegations, particularly in situations that allegedly took place over a decade ago. The age and timing of these allegations leave no opportunity for due process, and that is unfair to all involved."

Diego Morales, the GOP pick for Indiana’s Secretary of State, does a press conference at the state GOP Convention, Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum, Indianapolis, Saturday, June 18, 2022.
Diego Morales, the GOP pick for Indiana’s Secretary of State, does a press conference at the state GOP Convention, Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum, Indianapolis, Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Wells defended the women who came forward.

"Diego Morales' victims need to be heard and believed. It takes tremendous courage in coming forward, and the last thing I want is for their personal sacrifice to be for naught," the Democratic candidate said. "While this race has been focused on safeguarding our right to vote, we too must safeguard a woman's right to exist in the workplace free of sexual harassment and assault."

IndyStar is attempting to reach the women who shared their stories.

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270 or email her at Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Secretary of State candidate faces sexual assault allegation