Ex-Idaho lawmaker sentenced to 20 years in prison

Attorney Jon Cox, left, speaks with Aaron von Ehlinger as the court adjourns following sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse on Wednesday.

Attorney Jon Cox, left, speaks with Aaron von Ehlinger as the court adjourns following sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse on Wednesday.

smiler@idahostatesman.com

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Rape case of Aaron von Ehlinger

Former Idaho State Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, was convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern by a 12-person jury in April. He is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday August 31.

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Former State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger – who was convicted of rape in April – said in an Ada County court on Wednesday that he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Israel before facing trial on two counts of sexual assault.

He said that to be baptized he had to confess his sins.

But while he confessed to many sins, he told the court, rape was not one of them.

Von Ehlinger continued to maintain his innocence after a jury found him guilty of the 2021 rape of a legislative intern. Fourth District Judge Michael Reardon on Wednesday sentenced the former Lewiston lawmaker to a total of 20 years in prison, including at least eight fixed, meaning he will not be eligible for parole until 2030.

Reardon noted that von Ehlinger tried to portray himself as a “victim” and a “hero”.

“Honestly, I don’t see you as one of those things,” Reardon told him.

The former intern, 19 at the time of the sexual assault, said he forced her to perform oral sex in his Boise apartment after having dinner in March 2021.

The woman remained anonymous throughout the trial and was only referred to as JV in court records. In a recorded statement played in court on Wednesday, JV said she was ashamed throughout the criminal justice process, but hoped that coming forward would help other survivors of sex crimes.

“I hope (that) my presence can help pave the way for any future Jane or John Does here in Idaho,” JV said. ” And to conclude, I hope he rots to pieces behind those cold metal bars.

Below Idaho Law, the maximum sentence von Ehlinger could have received was life in prison. Assistant Ada County District Attorney Katelyn Margueritte Farley has requested at least 15 years in prison for the former Republican lawmaker, with an additional 25 years to serve in prison, on parole or both. Von Ehlinger’s lawyer, Jon Cox, pleaded for three fixed years and seven indefinite years.

“Tonight is a night that JV should never have to go through,” Farley said. “The defendant does not believe he did anything wrong.”

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Former Idaho State Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger looks around before his sentencing begins at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise on Wednesday. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

Von Ehlinger could spend up to 12 years on parole, or could also spend some of that time in prison. He was also ordered to pay a civil fine of $5,000 and $2,015 in restitution.

Reardon noted that 26 people submitted letters on behalf of von Ehlinger. In von Ehlinger’s statement to the court, he said even his ex-wife submitted a letter.

“They say I’m a good man, they had no problem,” von Ehlinger said, “that I was a good influence on their sons.”

From Ehlinger what originally assumed be sentenced in July. It was adjourned on motion submitted by Cox to retry the case or obtain an acquittal. redon denied the request.

redon told the court last week that in a case like von Ehlinger’s, in which the jury has concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty, he is not “prone to try to second guess the decision of that jury”.

“I want to thank Jane Doe for her courage in this case,” Ada County District Attorney Jan Bennetts said in a statement. “I appreciate the tireless work of Boise Police detectives on this case, which has allowed my team to ensure justice is served.”

Office spokeswoman Emily Lowe told the Idaho statesman via text that the prosecutor’s office would not provide further comment.

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Ada County Assistant District Attorney Katelyn Margueritte Farley speaks to 4th District Judge Micheal Reardon during the sentencing of former State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger at the Ada County Courthouse on Wednesday. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

Farley says von Ehlinger made other women ‘extremely uncomfortable’

During Farley’s argument, she said von Ehlinger had made at least three other women “extremely uncomfortable” in her few months as a lawmaker. He resigned from his Idaho House seat last year after an ethics committee reviewed his behavior for “unbecoming conduct” and recommended his expulsion.

House Caucus Chair Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, told the ethics committee last year that a lobbyist had told her that von Ehlinger had followed the woman into a bathroom. A married clerk told Idaho House chief clerk Carrie Maulin that von Ehlinger had asked her out on a date, which made her feel uncomfortable. A security guard also testified at ethics hearings that she had a sexual relationship with von Ehlinger.

“It should be noted that each of these women – including JV – whom the defendant prosecuted at the State Capitol were individuals who had a significant power differential between themselves and the defendant,” Farley said. “One was a security guard. One was a newspaper clerk. One was a lobbyist. And one was an intern.

Farley also said during his statements that von Ehlinger had no remorse for his actions, he refused to acknowledge any type of wrongdoing, and he continued to attack JV’s character.

The prosecutor noted that while the letters delivered on von Ehlinger’s behalf made him a hardworking and kind man of faith who “would never make a woman uncomfortable,” he was not that kind of person.

“He’s not the person who made several women at the Statehouse so uncomfortable that they reported him to their supervisors,” Farley said. “He’s not the person several lawmakers had to talk to him about his conduct with…and he’s not the person who dragged a 19-year-old girl back to her bedroom, where he forcibly raped her.”

Cox said the prosecution portrayed von Ehlinger as a “deviant freak” and that his client did not jump out of bushes and attack women.

According to data from Idaho Crime Report.

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Defense attorney Jon Cox, left, and Ada County assistant prosecutor Katelyn Margueritte Farley stand during the sentencing of former Republican state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

“It’s not the picture of a monster,” Cox said. “It’s a picture of a man, again, who provided military service to our country, who became a member of a state house of representatives.”

Cox also argued that JV’s audio statement should not have been played in court because he had not heard it beforehand. Reardon disagreed.

Lisa Growette Bostaph, professor of criminal justice at Boise State University previously said to the statesman that recounting a sexual assault is re-traumatizing for survivors. JV attempted to testify in von Ehlinger’s trial but left the stand after a few moments and his testimony was stricken from the record.

“You have to discuss something incredibly traumatic and incredibly personal, in front of strangers — when you probably didn’t even want to tell your parents,” Bostaph said. “There is not enough preparation to predict whether or not a victim will be able to overcome this unnatural environment to provide an account of an extraordinarily traumatic event.”

Sexual assault cases are also less likely to result in a conviction than other crimes. Of these 776 rape cases in 2021, only 12% led to an arrest, the Idaho Crime Report show.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, two out of three cases of sexual assault are never reported to the police.

“Have you ever tasted blood biting the inside of your lips because you couldn’t say no hard enough? Have you ever felt buried alive in your own flesh, having your screams trapped on the tip of your tongue? JV said during his statement which was aired in court. “March 9, 2021 is the night he created these feelings in me. The defendant felt so entitled to my body that he took it upon himself to use me as a means to satisfy his desires deviant sex.

This story was originally published August 31, 2022 4:44 p.m.

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Alex Brizee covers breaking news and crime for the Idaho statesman. Originally from Miami and a graduate of the University of Idaho, she has lived all over the United States. Go Vandals! In her spare time, she enjoys pad Thai, cuddling with her dog, and strong coffee.
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