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Former Idaho lawmaker sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape of a former Statehouse intern

Aaron von Ehlinger sentencing
Posted at 4:40 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 20:22:04-04

BOISE, Idaho — Former State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger is sentenced to 20 years in prison, with a fixed sentence of eight years, for raping a legislative intern. When he is released, von Ehlinger will have to register as a sex offender, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Earlier this year, von Ehlinger was convicted of rape and faced up to life in prison. von Ehlinger resigned in April 2021 after allegations surfaced and was found guilty in Ada County on April 29, 2022. The jury found von Ehlinger guilty on the count of felony rape and not guilty on the count of forcible penetration.

Jane Doe said von Ehlinger forced her to perform a sexual act at his apartment following a dinner last year. Von Ehlinger maintained he deserves a new trial on the basis of insufficient evidence. Judge Michael Reardon previously denied von Ehlinger's defense motion for a new trial and motion for acquittal on August 25.

"There is no sentence that can right the wrongs he did," Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katelyn Farley said during the statement.

Farley said the state does not have confidence von Ehlinger is capable of rehabilitation because of his reputation of his behavior with women during his time at the state house. All those women were at a significant power differential with von Ehlinger, Farley argued in the prosecution's statement.

The state requested a 40 year sentence, with the first 15 years as a fixed sentence.

Defense Attorney Jon Cox said von Ehlinger maintains he is innocent but is willing to go through any treatment the court decides on, but argued he could not access rehabilitation in prison.

"There can't be anything but deterrence when you're locked up in an 8-foot cell," Cox said. "38 years of your life can be astronomically changed and flipped on it's axis in a three-hour period."

The defense asked the court for a sentence of three years plus seven with retained jurisdiction.

"I think he deserves the opportunity to show you he's not a threat to society," Cox said.

In a statement to the judge, von Ehlinger said he is committed to being a law-abiding citizen.

"My commitment to be a law abiding citizen did not change on March 9 (day of assault) and it has not changed to this day," he said.

Reardon said all of the presented factors do not support a sentence without imprisonment and von Ehlinger has a "pattern of excusing, deflecting, and blaming others for his own situations."

"You see yourself as a victim and you see yourself as a hero and frankly I don't see you as either one of those," Reardon said.

In a statement following the sentencing, Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts thanked Jane Doe and Boise Police.

"I want to thank Jane Doe for the courage she has demonstrated in this case," Bennetts said in the statement. "I appreciate the tireless work done by the Boise Police detectives on this case, which allowed my team to ensure justice was served."