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Law & Justice

Arrest Warrant Issued For Former State Rep. Aaron Von Ehlinger

Aaron von Ehlinger ethics trial
James Dawson
/
Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston) during the first day of an ethics hearing into allegations he raped a volunteer staff member.

Ada County has issued a felony arrest warrant for former state representative Aaron von Ehlinger on charges of rape and forced sexual penetration with a foreign object.

The warrant was first reported by the Lewiston Tribune.

In March, a 19-year- old statehouse intern accused von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, of forcing her to have oral sex after going to dinner together. Von Ehlinger said the sex was consensual, but the intern reported the encounter to House officials and an ethics committee convened.

That committee recommended suspending von Ehlinger from the Idaho legislature through December 2022, but he resigned his seat the same day. He had not been officially charged with a crime in the matter until the warrant was issued Sept. 9.

The victim, referred to as Jane Doe, was identified by name and photo in messages sent to constituents by Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird).

Idaho Public Television reported Doe filed a tort claim against the legislature for what the claim calls "reckless disregard and with deliberate indifference to the rights of women in general and Ms. Doe in particular," among other complaints.

A separate ethics investigation into Giddings' actions sparked another hearing, which recommended she be censured.

During von Ehlinger's hearing in May, a security guard at the Idaho Capitol testified she had sex with von Ehlinger after two dates. When asked if it was consensual, she said, "Uncomfortably, I guess."

Two other women who work at the legislature said von Ehlinger made them feel "uncomfortable," according to transcripts.

In addition to saying his sexual encounter with Jane Doe was consensual, von Ehlinger defended himself during the ethics hearing by saying there was no written policy forbidding him from dating staff. House lawmakers never formally adopted respectful workplace rules like the Senate did a few years ago.

Members of leadership such as Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), said von Ehlinger’s conduct violated unwritten rules of the House.

“It would be in the areas of decorum and in the areas that legislators are held to a higher standard and should be,” Bedke said at the time.

A copy of the criminal complaint against von Ehlinger wasn't immediately available. A spokesperson for the Ada County Prosecutor's office declined to comment.

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