Lawmaker Convicted of Raping 19-Year-Old Intern Gets 20 Years

Aaron von Ehlinger won't be eligible for parole for at least 8 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2022 5:00 PM CDT
Updated Sep 1, 2022 12:48 AM CDT
Ex-Lawmaker Found Guilty of Raping Intern
Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger looks on as the defense asks questions of a witness during the second day of testimony at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise on Wednesday.   (Brian Myrick/The Idaho Press-Tribune via AP, Pool)

Update: The former Idaho lawmaker convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime, the AP reports. Aaron von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he will be eligible for parole, 4th District Judge Michael Reardon said during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday. The judge said von Ehlinger failed to show empathy or remorse, and that it was clear he was not ready for sex offender treatment. The sentence would at least deter von Ehlinger from committing another crime while he is incarcerated, Reardon said. “You have a pattern of explaining, excusing, deflecting and blaming others for the circumstances you find yourself in," Reardon said. "You see yourself as a victim and you see yourself as a hero, and frankly I don't see you as either one of those things." Our original story from April 29 follows:

A former Idaho lawmaker was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dramatic trial in which the young woman fled the witness stand during testimony, saying, "I can’t do this." The intern told a Statehouse supervisor that Aaron von Ehlinger raped her at his apartment after the two had dinner at a Boise restaurant in March 2021. Von Ehlinger said the sex was consensual. At the time, the Lewiston Republican was serving as state representative, but he later resigned. Von Ehlinger, 39, was found guilty Friday of rape, the AP reports, and not guilty of sexual penetration with a foreign object.

Von Ehlinger sat calmly as the verdict was read, as he had throughout the trial. Afterward, 4th District Judge Michael Reardon told the jury: "This has been an unusual case attended by many unexpected circumstances, but I appreciate your attention ... and hard work." A felony rape conviction carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison in Idaho. The maximum penalty can be as high as life in prison, at the judge's discretion. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 28. As von Ehlinger was remanded into custody and handcuffed, he talked quietly with his attorney, who removed items from von Ehlinger's pockets.

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The victim testified on the second day of the trial, haltingly describing the moments the assault began. "He tried to put his fingers between my legs, and I closed my knees," she said. At that, the woman stood up. "I can't do this," she said, quickly walking out of the courtroom. The judge told the jury to strike her testimony because the defense could not cross-examine her. When the allegations became public, the woman faced unrelenting harassment from some of von Ehlinger's supporters. Her name, photo and personal details were repeatedly publicized in "doxxing" incidents. One of the people who harassed her was in the courthouse to attend the trial, but law enforcement barred him from the floor where the case was being heard.

(More Idaho stories.)

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