Von Ehlinger appears at first Idaho court appearance

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The former legislator accused of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern appeared in front of an Idaho judge for the first time Wednesday morning.

Former representative Aaron von Ehlinger.

Ada County Magistrate Judge John Hawley scheduled Aaron von Ehlinger’s preliminary hearing for Oct. 29 during a brief virtual hearing.

Von Ehlinger, 39, of Juliaetta, faces charges of rape and forcible penetration with a foreign object. A copy of his criminal complaint alleges the suspected crimes happened on March 9.

Von Ehlinger hired defense attorney Jon Cox to represent him. Von Ehlinger appeared in Cox’s office during the virtual hearing.

At the hearing, the judge asked von Ehlinger if he understood his rights and the charges he faces. Von Ehlinger confirmed that he understood.

Von Ehlinger was arrested in Georgia on Sept. 25 when he was traveling back to the U.S. after international travel and he had an outstanding warrant from Ada County. Cox maintains his client was not attempting to flee from authorities. Von Ehlinger was later transported back to Ada County, booked and released from jail. 

Von Ehlinger is not in custody, and no bond has been set. 

In April, von Ehlinger faced an ethics hearing in which he claimed any interactions with the woman were consensual. There were also accusations of harassment from other women who worked in the capital. After the Ethics and House Policy Committee voted unanimously to recommend his censure and suspension, he resigned from the House of Representatives.

Throughout the public ethics hearings, von Ehlinger did not answer the committee’s questions about the night in question involving the woman, identified as Jane Doe, who accused him of sexual assault.

Idaho Reports does not identify possible victims of sexual assault. 

If convicted, the crime of rape could be punishable by up to life in prison. 

For those in need, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is free and available at 1-800-656-4673.

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