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A former Idaho state lawmaker is convicted of raping a legislative intern

<i>Brian Myrick/AP</i><br/>Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger
Brian Myrick/AP
Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger

By Jason Hanna and Paradise Afshar, CNN

A former Idaho state lawmaker was found guilty Friday of raping a state legislative intern in 2021.

Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, was found guilty in an Ada County court of a rape charge and was acquitted of a charge of forcible penetration by use of a foreign object, according to court documents.

The victim, then a 19-year-old intern for a different lawmaker, accused von Ehlinger — then a 38-year-old Republican state representative — of engaging in nonconsensual sexual acts with her in March 2021 after taking her to dinner.

Von Ehlinger resigned in April 2021 after a state House committee heard the intern’s allegations and unanimously recommended that von Ehlinger be censured and stripped of the powers of his office without pay. He was charged in the case later that year.

The woman was on the witness stand during von Ehlinger’s trial this week but left the courtroom while giving details about the assault, CNN affiliate KIVI reported.

“It was a human reaction, I think, when she ran from the room,” Katelyn Farley, Ada County’s deputy prosecuting attorney, said during a news conference on Friday. “I don’t think anybody could not have had a human reaction.”

Ada County prosecutor Jan Bennetts said von Ehlinger’s conviction sends a message that “victims can be believed and that it’s important to reduce barriers for victims in coming forward.”

Von Ehlinger has said the sexual encounter was consensual. Jon Cox, an attorney for von Ehlinger, did not comment on the case when approached by KIVI. Cox also did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Friday.

A sentencing hearing for von Ehlinger is scheduled for July 28, according to online court records. The maximum penalty for rape in Idaho is life in prison, Bennetts said.

The complaint filed in court referred to the accuser only by her initials. CNN does not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent.

Von Ehlinger first took office in June 2020, when Idaho’s governor appointed him to fill a vacancy in the state House. He was then elected to a full term in November 2020.

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CNN’s Kaylene Chassie contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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