An Idaho former state representative was convicted on Friday of raping an intern when she was 19, concluding an emotional three-day trial that saw the accuser flee the stand in distress in the midst of her testimony, saying: ‘I can’t do this’.
Aaron von Ehlinger, now 39, was accused of one count of rape and one count of forcible penetration with a foreign object. He was convicted on the rape charge, but not the second one.
Von Ehlinger showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, but as he was placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom, KTVB reported that sweat trickled down his neck.
He was accused of attacking the then teenage intern in March 2021, after dinner at a Boise restaurant.
He insisted the sex was consensual, but the 12-person jury found him guilty after 11 hours of deliberations.
Von Ehlinger could face anywhere from one year to life in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender. His sentencing is scheduled for July 28.
Several people embraced in the gallery on hearing the verdict, the channel reported, and one woman began to cry.
Jan Bennetts, Ada County prosecutor, said after the verdict was handed down that she hopes the conviction helps encourage other victims to come forward.
‘It is incredibly important to show victims that you can come forward and that you will be believed,’ she said, adding that the accuser, named only as Jane Doe, showed ‘remarkable’ courage.
‘I am really proud of her,’ she added.
The intern had previously suggested that she would find testifying in court difficult.
In April last year, speaking to the ethics committee, she testified that von Ehlinger repeatedly approached her when she worked at the Statehouse, once inviting her into his office and visiting her office roughly 10 times.
She said she hoped the March 2021 dinner would be an opportunity to network as well as a chance to eat at a fancy restaurant – something that she would never normally be able to afford, as someone who earns $8 an hour.
The intern told the jury that appearing in the ethics committee hearing, and all the proceedings leading up to it, had been difficult.
‘How do I explain that – vomiting on myself in the bathroom, calling my mom because I’m terrified – how do I explain that to the committee, what you’ve done to me?’ she said about being required to testify.
‘I came here fighting and earning your respect. But I don’t blame you. I forgive you. You’re doing your job, and I am too.’
This is an excerpt from The Daily Mail.
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