Former Idaho congressman Aaron von Ehlinger’s trial for raping an intern went off the rails

On Thursday, a disgraced Republican lawmaker accused of raping a teenage intern testified that he believed the act was consensual, after the first day he described it. described as successful.

But amid her own testimony a day earlier, former Idaho Representative Aaron von Ehlinger, the accuser in court filings identified only as “Jane Doe,” became so distressed that she quit. fled the courtroom, saying, “I can’t do this” as she walked out.

When it became clear that Doe was not coming back, prosecutors halted his case, the abrupt end to a sketchy trial that attracted national attention.

Due to the inability to cross-examine Doe, Judge Michael Reardon ordered her testimony removed from the record, ordering jurors to ignore everything she said. The jury will now have to weigh “as if she never showed up,” said criminal defense attorney David P. Shapiro, who was not involved in the case but has handled many similar cases. .

Shapiro told The Daily Beast: “It was difficult to remove that bell. However, he continued, “It would be difficult, if not impossible, to be found guilty without her testimony.”

Prosecutors allege von Ehlinger, 39, forced Doe, 19, to perform oral sex on him and penetrate her with his fingers at his Boise home after the two of them went to dinner in March 2021. Von Ehlinger resigned the following month before he could be expelled from the state legislature, after a bipartisan ethics committee found he had engaged in “inappropriate conduct”. That September, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was arrested later that month at Atlanta International Airport as he returned to the US from an extended vacation in Central America – something von Ehlinger’s attorney insists was pre-planned and not a crime. attempt to evade justice.

Doe, for his part, was a target of von Ehlinger’s Republicans from the start. Last August, Representative Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from the tiny town of White Bird, revealed Doe’s identity on social media and in an email to voters, with Right-wing blogs then posted Doe’s name and photo online.

In his testimony, von Ehlinger said he met Doe and gave her his cell phone number after inviting her to his office to see his artwork in January 2021. I said they would meet around the Statehouse once and talk. . But he didn’t hit her, he insisted.

The two had planned to have dinner in early March after Doe texted him hello, according to von Ehlinger. He picked her up in his roommate’s car and took her to eat at Barbacoa, a Spanish steakhouse in Boise, he testified. None of them drank any alcohol during the three-hour meal, he said.

Von Ehlinger claimed that when they arrived at the apartment building, he held Doe’s hand on the ride back to his place and took Doe upstairs.

“Things were going well, and I asked… if she wanted to move into the bedroom,” von Ehlinger said Thursday in the stands. “She said ‘Sure.’ We stood up, held hands, and walked into the bedroom.”

Doe previously said that von Ehlinger always carried a gun, and that he wrapped it up when he got home and put it on the nightstand. In court, von Ehlinger denied this, saying he “rarely” carried his gun, which he claimed was in the locker that night.

“I complimented her, I told her how beautiful she was,” von Ehlinger testified.

Von Ehlinger insists Doe never said she was uncomfortable with what was happening and was “ready” to perform oral sex on him for about 15 seconds. He then told her to stop, saying “tonight is probably not a good night for sex” because she hasn’t shaved and isn’t using birth control. He then stimulated himself with his hands and ejaculated into Doe’s stomach, he told the court.

“She never let me know that she didn’t want to be involved in this,” von Ehlinger said.

In a criminal complaint filed last October, along with testimony this week, prosecutors released a series of details that they argue undercut von Ehlinger’s statements. Doe objected to von Ehlinger’s unwanted advances, the suit stating that “her resistance was overcome by . . . a reasonably objective belief that resistance would be futile or that resistance would lead to to force or violence” by von Ehlinger.

In her opening arguments earlier this week, prosecutor Katelyn Farley described the case as “about power – power being used in the wrong hands.” She said von Ehlinger told Doe he needed to stop by his apartment after dinner to pick something up but when they got there, von Ehringer allegedly carried her into his bedroom and assaulted her. , forced his penis into her mouth and pinned her hands down. his legs as he ejaculated on her.

“He doesn’t stop and he doesn’t listen [Doe]”Farley told the jury.

On Thursday, Cox told the jury that von Ehlinger, a military veteran, injured his back in a helicopter crash during his service, so was unable to lift Doe and carry her like she did. he describes.

Juries also heard testimony from Doe’s mother, who said her daughter had volunteered at a domestic violence center before the alleged assault, as well as Anne Wardle, a The nurse performed the rape test and said that Doe had tears in her eyes as she recounted what. happened. Wardle said Doe had a “goose egg” from her head hit the wall of von Ehlinger’s bedroom when she tried to get out.

On Wednesday, Doe stood out for a face-to-face examination by prosecutors. She clearly struggled, staring at the guard board and looking towards the exit as she spoke. Farley begged Doe to focus on her and her testimony, Doe saying, “I can’t.”

As she began to describe what happened that night at von Ehlinger’s apartment, Doe abruptly stopped and said, “I can’t do this,” before walking out of the courtroom. She never came back.

This, Shapiro said, raised “the issue of confronting the Sixth Amendment,” which would negate von Ehlinger’s Constitutional right to confront the accuser.

Shapiro told The Daily Beast: “So her entire testimony is being cut off because the defense hasn’t had a chance to double-check her.

“What they have is testimony from the nurse who… can make some statements by the accuser,” Shapiro explained, noting that Doe’s mother’s testimony is still in the file, Shapiro explained. profile. “So the jury was able to hear some of what the accuser told her, but historically it has been very difficult for a jury to return a guilty verdict in any case, especially a sexual assault case, if they have no testimony to consider from the accuser. ”

In essence, Shapiro said, the case happened “from one,” he said, she said, “but now it’s no longer ‘She said’, because her testimony was cut short. it must not have happened — they found his DNA all over her body.”

The jury began deliberation on Thursday.

Von Ehlinger, who was appointed to the Idaho House of Representatives in June 2020 to end a dead lawmaker’s term, has resigned after serving less than a year. If found guilty of rape and raping using a foreign object, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. His attorney, Jon Cox, did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. Former Idaho congressman Aaron von Ehlinger’s trial for raping an intern went off the rails


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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