By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
Most of the security camera footage depicts a normal morning at the Idaho Capitol: A reporter walks to a press room, security guards chat, a group of school-aged children looks at photos in the wall and wanders toward the rotunda.
But at 11:18 am, something catches the eye of the students, who stop and stare down the hall. Seconds later, three women rush through the hall to a side stairwell, with one carrying an open black umbrella. Shortly after, another group follows. Some of the students pull out camera phones to record what they were witnessing.
The brief incident occurred minutes after Jane Doe finished her testimony to the House Ethics Committee on allegations that Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger raped her in March, forcing the 19-year-old legislative intern to perform oral sex after a dinner date. Von Ehlinger, 38, resigned on Thursday, though he maintained in his committee testimony and resignation letter that the encounter was consensual and that he broke no House rules in asking Jane Doe or other women on dates.
On Wednesday morning, Jane Doe testified from behind a black screen in the corner of the Lincoln Auditorium to protect her privacy. House Ethics Committee chairman Sage Dixon asked members of the media and the audience not to take images of her.
A few minutes after the testimony finished, a scream could be heard in the auditorium and over the Idaho In Session stream.
After social media posts reported a small group of people chased Jane Doe following her testimony, Idaho Reports made two public records requests for security footage of the statehouse’s west wing: One request for footage from the basement, in which the Lincoln Auditorium is located, and a follow-up request on Wednesday evening for the first floor when it became clear the majority of the confrontation took place there.
The Department of Administration fulfilled the first request for the footage in the basement on Wednesday afternoon. As of Friday morning, the second request had not yet been fulfilled. An official with the Department of Administration told Idaho Reports a deputy attorney general is reviewing those records.
The security footage from the basement has no audio. The images aren’t always clear, nor do the cameras stay trained on one spot for more than a few seconds at a time. There are blind spots, and sometimes the cameras cut away or freeze.
The footage doesn’t show the moment Doe entered the hallway. It also doesn’t show an alleged confrontation between CBS2 reporter Emri Moore and Jane Doe, in which witnesses say Moore attempted to film and ask questions of Doe when she left the committee room; That interaction appears to have occurred just out of frame. (Full disclosure: On Thursday, the Capitol Correspondents Association standing committee voted unanimously to revoke Moore’s statehouse credentials after the incident. I am one of the five members on that committee.)
CBS2 has issued an apology for Moore’s actions, and has said the footage she recorded has been deleted and has never aired.
The pieced-together security footage does show Jane Doe and her attorneys walking briskly through the hallway at 11:18 am and heading to a side staircase that leads to the first floor. Attorney Annie Hightower confirmed to Idaho Reports that she and Jane Doe are in the security footage; Hightower is holding a black umbrella to help shield Doe from cameras.
Idaho Reports does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault, and has blurred Jane Doe’s image from the security still.
Seconds later, a small group of people leave the Lincoln Auditorium, walking at first, then speeding up as they near the stairwell.
Hightower told Idaho Reports security was present when Doe entered the hallway, and Idaho State Police arrived shortly after to help. Marissa Morrison Hyer, press secretary for Gov. Brad Little, confirmed a member of the Idaho State Police executive protection was present for the hearing, and was in the hallway when the incident occurred.
Hightower confirmed to Idaho Reports a confrontation took place after the testimony in the basement and on the first floor.
“We were followed by several individuals with cameras on her as (Doe) tried to run from folks,” Hightower said Wednesday. “They were getting real close to her with their cameras.”
Hightower said at one point, Doe fell to the floor. Hightower said she and attorney Erika Birch both tried to shield Doe from the cameras. After ISP arrived on the first floor, they were able to get Doe safely to a vehicle so she could leave.
“Right now, she’s not feeling great,” Hightower told Idaho Reports on Wednesday. “All that being said, she showed up and told the truth today.”
Eight minutes after they left the hearing, security footage shows the women who followed Jane Doe return to the front of the Lincoln Auditorium as security guards and ISP troopers look on.
A few minutes later, as audience members file through the hall for a lunch break, the footage shows CBS2 reporter Moore giving one of the women a hug.
Since the incident on Wednesday, lawmakers from both the House and Senate have condemned those who have revealed Jane Doe’s identity and posted images of her online. Members of the House Ethics Committee reprimanded those who harassed Doe, with Rep. Wendy Horman pointing out the committee went to great lengths to protect her identity. Rep. John Gannon said anyone who harassed or intimidated her should be considered for possible prosecution.
“No one should be attacked or exposed on social media because of bringing forth a complaint,” Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder told the Senate on Friday morning.
Idaho Reports will update when we receive footage from the first floor.