A Former Idaho State Representative Convicted Of Raping An Intern, Faces Life In Prison

BOISE, Idaho (April 30, 2022) — A former Idaho state representative was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old Capitol intern during the 2021 legislative session.

Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, will be required to register as a sex offender and faces up to life in prison at his July 28 sentencing. 

The jury returned a guilty verdict for felony rape after about eleven hours of deliberation, finding von Ehlinger not guilty on a separate charge of forcible penetration. 

KTVB7 reported that Von Ehlinger’s face betrayed no emotion as the verdict was read, but as he was placed in handcuffs and led by a deputy out of the courtroom, sweat trickled down his neck. 

In the gallery, several people embraced. One woman began to cry quietly. Prosecutors Katelyn Farley and Whitney Welsh rose and strode from the room, then hugged one another in the courthouse lobby.

Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said after the verdict was handed down that she hopes the conviction helps to tear down the barriers faced by victims of sexual assault.

“It is incredibly important to show victims that you can come forward and that you will be believed,” Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said after the verdict, adding that the intern, Jane Doe, showed “remarkable” courage. 

“I am really proud of her,” she added.

The young woman told police that von Ehlinger raped her in his downtown Boise apartment after the pair went out to dinner together March 9, 2021. The representative penetrated her with his finger, pinned her down, and forced her to perform oral sex, she reported, despite her saying “no” and telling him that she did not want to do it and that he was hurting her. 

Jane Doe told her mother and another employee at the Statehouse what had happened, reported the rape to police, and received a sexual assault exam two days later. 

Von Ehlinger, a Republican from Latah County, resigned his seat in the Idaho House the next month after a legislative ethics committee found that he had committed “conduct unbecoming a representative” in his sexual pursuit of the intern and several other women who worked at the Statehouse.

He took the stand in his own defense Thursday, testifying that the sexual encounter had been consensual and that the 19-year-old was a willing participant. 

“She never told me no,” von Ehlinger said.

 

 
 

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