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Former Idaho lawmaker to spend up to 20 years in prison for raping an intern

0831 Von Ehlinger Sentencing
Sarah A. Miller/smiller@idahostatesman.com
Idaho Statesman
Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger looks around the room before the start of his sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. He was convicted of raping a legislative intern in April.

Aaron von Ehlinger, the former Republican state representative from Lewiston, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with a minimum of eight years after a jury convicted him earlier this spring of raping a teenage legislative intern.

He could have faced up to life in prison on the felony charge.

Jane Doe, the victim who Boise State Public Radio isn’t naming, spoke for a few minutes Wednesday afternoon via a previously recorded audio file.

“I have sudden panic every time I hear his name,” Doe said, adding she’s never felt more “ashamed” and “belittled” in her life.

Von Ehlinger “felt so entitled to my body that he took it upon himself to gratify his deviant sexual desires” that he forced her to perform oral sex that night, she said.

“Have you ever tasted the blood from biting the inside of your lips because you couldn’t say ‘no’ loud enough? Have you ever felt buried alive in your own flesh that your screams stay trapped on the tip of your tongue?” Doe asked.

“I hope he rots in pieces behind those cold metal bars.”

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, von Ehlinger gave no noticeable reaction when Judge Michael Reardon handed down the sentence.

Shortly before, he pleaded for leniency while maintaining his innocence. He cited his previous military service as teaching him to protect women, as well as a recent baptism in Israel where he said he did not confess to raping Doe.

“My commitment to being a law abiding citizen did not change on March 9 and it has not changed to this day,” von Ehlinger said.

Doe reported the rape shortly after it occurred on March 9, 2021, just months after von Ehlinger won his seat as a freshman state lawmaker.

After reviewing von Ehlinger’s criminal history, which included alcohol and driving offenses, Reardon said he concluded that he sees himself as both a “victim and a hero.”

“Frankly, I don’t see you as either of those,” Reardon said, saying von Ehlinger “disrespected and denigrated” Jane Doe throughout the past year.

“I can’t think of rehabilitation as a realistic objective of sentencing,” said Reardon. “You have a pattern of explaining, excusing, deflecting and blaming others for the circumstances you find yourself in.”

The two met at the Idaho Capitol and had brief conversations with each other over the course of a few weeks before von Ehlinger asked the then-19-year-old on a date. He was 38 at the time.

The two eventually went to dinner at a Boise restaurant a short drive away from the apartment where von Ehlinger was staying.

Afterwards, they returned to his apartment, began kissing and that’s when Doe said he forced her to perform oral sex against her will.

Von Ehlinger eventually resigned his House seat following a blistering ethics hearing that resulted in a recommendation of essentially expelling him for the rest of his elected term.

Testimony from others at the statehouse given during that hearing illustrated a pattern of making women “feel uncomfortable.”

His far-right allies at the Idaho Capitol called the process a witch hunt to root out a conservative lawmaker. They referred to him as a “gentleman” who was nothing but polite in his interactions with them.

One, Rep. Priscilla Giddings who lost her race for lieutenant governor this year,shared a far-right blog article on Facebook revealing the name and photo of Jane Doe with the caption, “Follow the Money! Idaho’s very own Kavanaugh.”

The House eventually censured Giddings and stripped her of a committee assignment.

Upon his release from prison, von Ehlinger will be required to register as a sex offender. Reardon also signed a no-contact order forbidding him from speaking with Doe through 2055.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!