North Idaho Legislator Accused Of Rape Resigns After Call For His Expulsion

Apr 29, 2021

Aaron von Ehlinger, pictured Wednesday at a House Ethics Committee hearing, resigned Thursday as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives.
Credit Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

An Idaho state representative has resigned from the state House. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, leaves office on the same day that a legislative ethics committee recommended that he be expelled.

On Wednesday, members of the Idaho House Ethics Committee heard testimony detailing Representative Aaron von Ehlinger’s encounter with the 19-year-old woman who accused him of raping her. Von Ehlinger admitted he took the woman to dinner and to his apartment, but he wouldn’t comment on any sexual activity that occurred. That was cited by Ethics Committee chairman Rep. Sage Dixon [R-Ponderay] in his response Thursday morning.

“I think by anybody’s standards, if you were to ask, ‘Is it appropriate for a 38-year-old to be dating a 19-year-old, that alone, in itself, would be questionable. But the fact that there’s a title borne with it makes it even more questionable," he said.

The sexual encounter is under investigation by Boise police as it tries to determine if legal charges should be filed. Ethics Committee members say their probe was focused not on the legalities, but whether von Ehlinger acted inappropriately as a legislator.

For Rep. Wendy Horman [R-Idaho Falls], the answer was yes. She proposed the committee send a message to the rest of their colleagues in the House.

“We would unanimously support a procedurally proper motion before the House to expel Representative von Ehlinger for good cause shown under Article 3, Section 11 of the constitution of the state of Idaho," she said.

With von Ehlinger’s resignation, that becomes moot.

Governor Brad Little will now be tasked with appointing someone from District 6 to serve the final 20 months of that term.

The governor appointed von Ehlinger to the seat last June to replace Representative Thyra Stevenson, who passed away. Von Ehlinger ran unopposed last November.

Soon after the Ethics Committee vote, Little issued a statement calling the representative’s actions “inappropriate and alarming” and said he supported the decision to expel.