Wednesday, a jury in Idaho convicted a former state lawmaker of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dinner last year, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite his continuing claims of innocence in court.
Video from local TV station KTVB shows Ada County District Court Judge Michael Reardon imposing an eight-year sentence on former state legislator Aaron von Ehlinger, 40, who resigned last year. After Mr. von Ehlinger’s release from prison, he must register as a sex offender and is forbidden from contacting the victim, who will remain anonymous until the year 2055.
Judge Reardon noted that the former Republican member “demonstrated a lack of empathy” and “blamed” the victim, despite the fact that 26 letters lauded Mr. von Ehlinger’s character.
Judge Reardon told the defendant, “You regard yourself as a victim and you see yourself as a hero.” “Because, to be quite honest, I don’t view you as either of them. The things that have happened to you today are the result of choices you made.
According to one of her attorneys, the woman told the House assistant sergeant-at-arms on March 11 that Mr. von Ehlinger had sexually assaulted her after they had dinner at a Boise restaurant two days earlier. She testified about this incident before the Idaho House Ethics and Policy Committee in April 2021. The lawyer claimed that rather than returning her to her vehicle, Mr. von Ehlinger drove her back to his apartment and raped her there.
Priscilla Giddings, a Republican representative from White Bird, Idaho, was also criticized for revealing the victim’s personal information online after she had accused Mr. von Ehlinger. As with Ms. Giddings, she was removed from her position on the committee.
Ada County’s prosecutor, Jan M. Bennetts, expressed gratitude to the victim for her bravery and praised the efforts of law enforcement.
According to a statement made by Ms. Bennetts, “I appreciate the tireless work done by the Boise Police officers on this case.”
A message left for Mr. von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, went unanswered.
Mr. von Ehlinger testified in court that he had visited Israel, Jordan, and Egypt on a religious trip before his trial in April, before Judge Reardon handed down his sentence. Mr. von Ehlinger told NBC News that he had to make a public confession of his faults before being baptized in the Jordan River.
“I confessed a lot of sins, your Honor — I am not a perfect man” “but rape was not a sin that I could confess to,” he said. To admit guilt for a sin I did not commit would be a sin in and of itself.
Mr. von Ehlinger had been awaiting sentencing since the conclusion of his four-day trial in the spring, during which he was found guilty of rape but not guilty of a second charge, forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. A year to the day after he resigned in the midst of a criminal investigation and the recommendation of an ethics committee that he be suspended, he was found guilty.