A former Idaho state representative continued to claim his innocence in a courtroom on Wednesday but was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury convicted him of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dinner last year.
Aaron von Ehlinger, 40, who resigned as a state representative last year, will serve eight years before being eligible for parole, Judge Michael Reardon of Ada County District Court said, according to a video of the proceeding from a local TV station, KTVB. Mr. von Ehlinger will also be required to register as a sex offender after being released from prison and is ordered not to have contact with the victim, who is known as Jane Doe, until 2055.
Judge Reardon said that despite 26 letters that praised Mr. von Ehlinger’s character, the judge believed that the former Republican lawmaker “demonstrated a lack of empathy” and “blamed” the victim.
“You see yourself as a victim, and you see yourself as a hero,” Judge Reardon said. “And frankly, I don’t see you as either one of those. You created your own circumstances that put you here today.”
The woman, who testified before Idaho’s House Ethics and Policy Committee in April 2021, 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, according to one of her lawyers. Instead of taking her back to her car, the lawyer said, Mr. von Ehlinger drove her back to his apartment and raped her.
The case also spurred the censure of another Republican Idaho lawmaker, Priscilla Giddings, from White Bird, who shared the victim’s personal information online after she accused Mr. von Ehlinger. Ms. Giddings was also stripped of a committee assignment.
The Ada County prosecutor, Jan M. Bennetts, thanked the victim for having courage throughout the case and applauded the authorities’ work.
“I appreciate the tireless work done by the Boise Police detectives on this case, which allowed my team to ensure justice was served,” Ms. Bennetts said in a statement.
Before Judge Reardon rendered his sentence, Mr. von Ehlinger told the courtroom that he had taken a pilgrimage to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt before his trial in April. Before he could be baptized in the Jordan River, Mr. von Ehlinger said, he had to confess his sins, according to NBC News.