A former state representative in Idaho was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old lawmaker after a dinner in March 2021, a case that spurred the Republican lawmaker’s resignation last year and criticism 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 another charge: coercive use of a foreign object. District Judge Michael Reardon set the sentence at July 28.
The conviction came exactly one year after Mr. von Ehlinger withdrew, 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 shortly before she became upset as she described the meeting and left the booth, according to The Idaho Statesman.
The woman said Mr von Ehlinger had put her hand between her legs and she closed her legs shortly before she cut her testimony briefly, the newspaper reported. Because Mr von Ehlinger’s lawyer could not cross – examine her, Judge Michael Reardon asked the jury to beat her testimony.
“I can not 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 the Idaho House Ethics and Policy Committee in April 2021, told the House Assistant on March 11 that Mr. von Ehlinger had sexually assaulted her after eating dinner at a Boise restaurant two days earlier, according to one of her lawyers. Instead of taking her back to his car, the lawyer said Mr. von Ehlinger, who is from Lewiston, drove her back to his apartment and raped her.
Jon Cox, attorney for Mr. von Ehlinger, who has denied the allegations, did not immediately respond to an email and phone message Friday. During his opening statement on Tuesday, Mr Cox characterized the episode as a consensual meeting between two people who did not have an employment relationship; the woman was detained before another legislator.
Erika Birch, the woman’s lawyer, could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.
In November, a Republican lawmaker in Idaho who had shared the woman’s personal information online after she accused Mr. von Ehlinger was formally censored by the State House of Representatives.
The representative, Priscilla Giddings, of White Bird, was deprived of a committee assignment because she had shared an article containing the intern’s personal information on Facebook and in a newsletter to followers.
“Von Ehlinger could and should have taken responsibility for his actions from the start,” Birch said in April last year. “Instead, he forced our teenage client to suffer during weeks of investigation by the ethics committee and eventually to testify in a public hearing. Worse, he released his written defense without changing her identity, which has led to a campaign with harassment and bullying. “