Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R) was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison with an eight-year minimum on Monday. Von Ehlinger was convicted of raping a 19-year-old intern, reported KTVB.
The victim – only referred to as Jane Doe to protect her identity – accused von Ehlinger of raping her in his apartment after the two had gone out to dinner. She reported the attack to a statehouse supervisor, and an investigation was launched in March 2021.
Following Doe's allegations, several additional female coworkers accused the former state representative of pursuing them.
Von Ehlinger, 40, resigned from his position in April 2021 after the ethics community voted that he had "engaged in conduct unbecoming," according to Speaker of the House Scott Bedke.
The Idaho representative denied all wrongdoing and insisted the sexual contact was consensual.
In April 2022, a jury of 12 found von Ehlinger guilty of raping the 19-year-old legislative intern. He underwent a psycho-sexual evaluation, which found that he was a moderate risk. However, the examiners accused von Ehlinger of attempting to deceive them during the evaluation to have a more favorable outcome.
Alexandra Duggan, an investigative reporter for KTVB, was in the courtroom on Monday posting live updates on Twitter. She posted that Jon Cox, von Ehlinger's lawyer, argued that Doe had agreed to go on a date with the former representative and had accepted an invitation to go to his apartment afterward.
"She agreed to go back to his apartment," Cox reported. "She agreed to go upstairs."
Von Ehlinger's attorney claimed that the prosecution painted a false picture that his client was "a monster."
Cox said, "This is not a picture of a monster. This is a military man who provided service to our country." He insisted that Doe and his client were in a consensual relationship.
In von Ehlinger's statement, he claimed that his previous military experience was being used against him in the case. The former state representative said, "My military training and service was used against me in trial. As American soldiers we are trained to do the right thing."
The defense submitted 26 letters of character reference in support of von Ehlinger.
Jane Doe's recorded victim impact statement said she would not be intimidated by von Ehlinger or "let another rapist slip through the cracks."
"I have never felt more ashamed, belittled, powerless and dehumanized," Doe said. "I will never forget the strength and force of his grip."
Ada County Prosecutor Katelyn Farley requested that von Ehlinger be sentenced to a total of 40 years in jail with 15 fixed.
Von Ehlinger's attorney asked that he be sentenced to three years in a rehabilitation center instead of facing prison time.
District Judge Michael Reardon stated, "I have to come to the conclusion that your denial demonstrated lack of empathy... I wrote down two words. Victim and hero. You see yourself as a victim and you see yourself as a hero. I don't see you as either one of those things."
"There were vast differences in age, size, power, between the victim. I am persuaded you manipulated those things to your advantage," Judge Reardon said.
The judge told von Ehlinger that after careful consideration of past allegations and the character witness letters, he concluded the former state representative had "a pattern of explaining, excusing, deflecting, blaming others for situations you find yourself in."
Reardon stated that von Ehlinger's request for rehabilitation was denied because he seemed unwilling to admit any wrongdoing.
In addition to a 20-year sentence, eight years fixed, Reardon ordered von Ehlinger to pay $2,015 in restitution.