Former Rep. von Ehlinger arrested on rape charges after returning to Idaho

Oct 8, 2021

Former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger’s booking photo was released shortly after his arrest on rape charges Oct. 8.
Credit Ada County Sheriff's Office

Former Idaho Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger was arrested Friday afternoon on felony charges of rape and forcible penetration after being extradited to Idaho and booked into the Ada County Jail, according to Ada County booking records.

Von Ehlinger, 39, flew to Idaho on Friday from Atlanta, where he had been arrested as a fugitive of justice on Sept. 24 after returning to the United States from Central America. Online jail records indicate von Ehlinger remained in custody in Clayton County, Georgia until 7:04 a.m. Friday.

Von Ehlinger is accused of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after the two allegedly went out to dinner and returned to von Ehlinger’s apartment. The woman, known as Jane Doe, said von Ehlinger held her down and forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to the woman’s testimony during an April 28 hearing of the House Ethics and Policy Committee.

Von Ehlinger has maintained he is innocent and said the sexual activity was consensual.

The Idaho Capital Sun does not identify the names of alleged victims of rape or sexual assault.

Von Ehlinger, a Republican who represented Lewis and Nez Perce counties, resigned from the Legislature April 29 after the House Ethics and Policy Committee recommended the full Legislature expel him.

Following an investigation by the Boise Police Department, Ada County District Court issued a warrant for von Ehlinger’s arrest on Sept. 9, the Lewiston Tribune first reported.

After the arrest, von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, said the former legislator had been on a pre-planned vacation and not trying to evade law enforcement by leaving the country.

“He asked me because he’s been speaking with family and he understands from social media or media outlets that there’s this perception he was on the run, trying to hide,” Cox said during the Sept. 29 press conference. “That’s absolutely not true.”

Von Ehlinger served in the Legislature for less than one year. Gov. Brad Little appointed von Ehlinger to the Idaho House of Representatives on June 3, 2020, to fill the unexpired seat held by the late Rep. Thyra Stevenson. Von Ehlinger then ran unopposed in the November 2020 general election, where he was elected to a two-year term. He never finished his first session after winning election, as he resigned in April.

If convicted, von Ehlinger could face up to a life sentence and have to register with the Idaho sex ofender registry, according to Idaho Code. Every person found guilty of forcible penetration, “shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than life,” according to Idaho Code. Rape is punishable by imprisonment for not less than one year, but imprisonment may be extended to life at the discretion of a district judge, according to state law.

This story was originally published by the Idaho Capital Sun, and is republished here under Creative Commons permissions.