June 14, 2024

A former Idaho state representative was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dinner in March 2021, a case that spurred the Republican lawmaker’s resignation last year and the censure of another lawmaker who had doxxed the victim.

A jury at the 4th District Court in Boise, Idaho, found Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, guilty of rape, but not guilty of a second charge: forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. District Judge Michael Reardon set sentencing for July 28.

The conviction came exactly a year after Mr. von Ehlinger resigned, on April 29, 2021, amid a criminal investigation and an ethics committee’s recommendation that he be suspended.

On Wednesday, Jane Doe, as the woman was identified in court documents, testified briefly before becoming upset while describing the encounter and leaving the stand, according to The Idaho Statesman.

The woman said that Mr. von Ehlinger had put his hand between her legs, and she closed her legs, shortly before she cut her testimony short, the newspaper reported. Because Mr. von Ehlinger’s lawyer could not cross-examine her, Judge Michael Reardon told the jury to strike her testimony.

“I can’t do this,” the woman said as she walked out.

After the verdict was read on Friday, deputies handcuffed Mr. von Ehlinger and escorted him from the courtroom.

The woman, who testified before Idaho’s House Ethics and Policy Committee in April 2021, told the House assistant sergeant-at-arms on March 11 that Mr. von Ehlinger had sexually assaulted her after they had dinner at a Boise restaurant two days earlier, according to one of her lawyers. Instead of taking her back to her car, the lawyer said, Mr. von Ehlinger, who is from Lewiston, drove her back to his apartment and raped her.

Jon Cox, a lawyer for Mr. von Ehlinger, who has denied the allegations, did not immediately respond to an email and phone message on Friday. During his opening statement on Tuesday, Mr. Cox characterized the episode as a consensual encounter between two people who did not have a working relationship; the woman had interned for another lawmaker.

Erika Birch, a lawyer for the woman, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

In November, a Republican Idaho lawmaker who had shared the personal information of the woman online after she accused Mr. von Ehlinger was formally censured by the state’s House of Representatives.

The representative, Priscilla Giddings, from White Bird, was stripped of a committee assignment because she had shared an article that included the intern’s personal details on Facebook and in a newsletter to supporters.

“Von Ehlinger could have and should have taken responsibility for his actions from the outset,” Ms. Birch said last April. “Instead, he forced our teenaged client to suffer through weeks of the Ethics Committee investigation and ultimately having to testify in a public hearing. Worse yet, he released his written defense without redacting her identity, which has led to a campaign of harassment and bullying.”

Source link