Ex-legislator von Ehlinger appears in court, trial set for April 26

Ex-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The former Idaho legislator accused of two felony sex crimes connected to accusations from a 19-year-old legislative intern appeared in court Monday in preparation for trial. 

Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael Reardon heard from attorneys and set a trial for April 26 for Aaron von Ehlinger, who is charged with rape and forcible penetration with a foreign object. 

Von Ehlinger, 39, of Juliaetta, resigned from the legislature in 2021 after facing a public House ethics hearing in which the allegations were brought forward by the woman. At the time, he claimed all interactions with the woman were consensual. 

During his legislative hearing, von Ehlinger declined to answer questions about the night of the alleged rape.

The trial is expected to last for five days in Ada County and von Ehlinger is represented by Boise defense attorney Jon Cox. The trial will be ongoing during the one-year anniversary of the day von Ehlinger resigned from the House of Representatives.

Exhibit and witness lists for the trial have not been submitted to the court yet, but von Ehlinger has a pre-trial conference set for April 18.

Von Ehlinger is not in jail while awaiting trial and appeared virtually with his attorney Monday.

Idaho Reports does not identify the name of potential sexual assault victims.

The criminal charges came after April 2021 when von Ehlinger faced an ethics hearing in which he claimed any interactions with the woman were consensual. That hearing included 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 immediate suspension, he resigned from the House of Representatives. All committee members condemned von Ehlinger’s actions after the onerous hearing.

After the contentious ethics hearing with von Ehlinger, the House of Representatives amended its ethics rule in the 2022 session, offering some protections for third-party witnesses involved in public legislative hearings. 

If convicted, both charges von Ehlinger faces could be punishable by up to life in prison.

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

<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: