Former Idaho lawmaker discovered responsible of raping intern

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A former Idaho lawmaker was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dramatic trial wherein the younger lady fled the witness stand throughout testimony, saying “I can’t do this.”

The intern informed a Statehouse supervisor that Aaron von Ehlinger raped her at his house after the 2 had dinner at a Boise restaurant in March 2021. Von Ehlinger mentioned the intercourse was consensual.

At the time, the Lewiston Republican was serving as state consultant, however he later resigned.

Von Ehlinger, 39, was discovered responsible Friday of rape. He was discovered not responsible of sexual penetration with a overseas object.

Von Ehlinger sat calmly as the decision was learn, as he has all through the trial. Afterward, 4th District Judge Michael Reardon informed 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 minimal sentence of 1 12 months in jail in Idaho. The most penalty might be as excessive as life in jail, on the choose’s discretion. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 28.

As von Ehlinger was remanded into custody and handcuffed, he talked quietly along with his legal professional who eliminated objects from von Ehlinger’s pockets.

The prosecution remained stoic as they left the courtroom, however as soon as they reached a decrease flooring they stopped to briefly have a good time the decision.

Von Ehlinger’s legal professional, Jon Cox, couldn’t be instantly reached for remark after the trial.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t establish individuals who say they’ve been sexually assaulted, and has referred to the lady on this case as “Jane Doe” at her request.

In a press convention, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts thanked the jury, investigators and the prosecutors who dealt with the case.

“Last but not least, it took an incredible amount of courage for the victim in this case, Jane Doe, to come forward,” Bennetts mentioned. “I want to acknowledge the courage that she took in coming forward.”

Doe testified on the second day of the trial. She haltingly described the moments the alleged assault started, earlier than abruptly leaving the witness stand.

“He tried to put his fingers between my legs and I closed my knees,” Doe mentioned.

At that, she stood up.

“I can’t do this,” she mentioned, shortly strolling out of the courtroom.

The choose gave the prosecuting attorneys 10 minutes to search out her to find out if she would return and resume her testimony.

When she didn’t, the choose informed the jurors they needed to “strike (Doe’s testimony) from your minds as if it never happened,” as a result of the protection couldn’t cross-examine her.

During the press convention, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katelyn Farley mentioned the second Doe left the trial was “heart-wrenching,” however mentioned she and deputy prosecutor Whitney Welsh had ready for trial understanding that Doe might not be capable of testify.

“I think it’s important that she decided to walk in the room, and she also decided to walk out — those were her choices,” Welsh mentioned.

During his testimony Thursday, von Ehlinger usually spoke in a transparent, loud voice on to jurors, saying he and Doe determined to return to his house to “hang out” after consuming at a elaborate Boise restaurant. Then they started making out on the sofa, he mentioned.

“Things were going well, and I asked (Doe) if she would like to move to the bedroom,” von Ehlinger mentioned. “She said ‘Sure.’ We got up, held hands and walked into the bedroom.”

Deliberations stretched for seven hours till practically 8 p.m. Thursday earlier than the jury determined to interrupt for the night. At one level, the choose summoned the attorneys to his chambers as a result of the jury requested a query. No particulars had been made public concerning the jury’s inquiry.

When the allegations grew to become public — largely due to the legislative ethics investigation — Doe confronted unrelenting harassment from a few of von Ehlinger’s supporters. Her identify, photograph and private particulars about her life had been repeatedly publicized in “doxxing” incidents. One of the individuals who regularly harassed her was within the courthouse to attend the trial, however legislation enforcement banned the person from the ground the place the place case was being heard.

During closing arguments, Farley informed jurors that the case was about “power in the wrong hands” used to the “great devastation” of Doe. Von Ehlinger had social, political and bodily energy over the petite intern, Farley mentioned.

“He used that power to rape and forcibly penetrate her,” Farley mentioned, pointing at von Ehlinger. Doe resisted in a number of methods, she mentioned, highlighting the testimony of legislation enforcement investigators and a nurse sexual assault examiner who interviewed Doe after the alleged assault.

“Words show lack of consent. Excuses of ‘Why this shouldn’t happen’ show lack of consent. Yanking your head back and getting an injury shows lack of consent,” Farley mentioned.

But von Ehlinger’s legal professional informed jurors the prosecution’s case was made up of “red herrings,” and mentioned von Ehlinger was a reputable one who willingly took the stand to share his aspect of the story.

Earlier this week, jurors heard from investigators and a nurse who carried out a rape examination. They testified that Doe reported being pinned down whereas von Ehlinger compelled her to carry out oral intercourse, and that she knew he regularly carried a handgun and had positioned it on a dresser close to the mattress on the time of the assault. A nurse additionally testified that Doe had a “goose egg” on the again of her head from putting the wall or a headboard whereas attempting to jerk her head away from von Ehlinger’s grip.

Rebecca Boone, The Associated Press

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