By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Fourth Judicial District Judge Jason Scott dismissed the lawsuit filed against the Legislature by a former legislative intern who said she was raped by ex-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, following a possible settlement. Von Ehlinger was convicted of the rape last year.
The lawsuit’s stipulation to dismiss does not specify the details around why parties agreed to dismiss, other than stating both parties agreed to the dismissal on Nov. 18 and will bear the costs of their own attorney’s fees.
Naylor and Hales PC law firm in Boise represented the Idaho House of Representatives in the litigation. The Idaho Controller’s Office has a record of a Nov. 3rd payment of $200,000 to the firm “in trust of” a person who shares Jane Doe’s initials. Idaho Reports and the lawsuit will continue to refer to that person as Jane Doe.
A record request sent to the Controller’s Office found the invoice description of the payment calls the $200,000 expense a “liability settlement …/Doe.”
Idaho Reports made multiple efforts to contact the Naylor and Hales office and did not receive a response, as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Idaho Controller’s Office is not involved in the litigation, but the state controller is responsible for accounting for any state expenses.
An Ada County jury convicted von Ehlinger of felony rape. He is now serving a 20-year sentence after being sentenced in August. He is currently incarcerated at the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino and could be eligible for parole after he serves eight years.
Von Ehlinger, 40, of Juliaetta, resigned from the House of Representatives following a public ethics hearing in 2021.
The then-19-year-old intern and victim involved filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Legislature in September of 2021.
In the lawsuit’s complaint, the intern, referred to as Jane Doe, claims a violation of the Respectful Workplace Policy of the Idaho Legislative Branch.
The claim alleged “The legislature knew or should have known about a pattern of sexually inappropriate and/or gender-based behaviors perpetrated by elected officials on females working at the legislature/conducting legislative business at the legislature. The legislature, including members in leadership, knew that von Ehlinger had engaged in inappropriate behavior with young women whom he worked with or had contact with via his work as an elected official.”
She argued the legislature acted with “reckless disregard and with deliberate indifference to the rights of women in general and Ms. Doe in particular.”
When asked last week, Doe’s retained attorney Erika Birch told Idaho Reports that all she could say was “the matter has been resolved.”
Judge Scott dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 25 “with prejudice” which means Doe may not bring back a similar lawsuit on the same grounds.
Further information around the payment only showed that the money came from the “retained risk account” of the “risk management liability coverage” fund, from the Controller’s website Transparent.Idaho.gov.
Unrelated to this case, on Wednesday, all legislators in the 67th Idaho Legislature took mandatory Respectful Workplace Training.