clearn.png
Wednesday July 6th, 2022 3:29AM

Jury still deliberating in rape trial of Idaho ex-lawmaker

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Jurors in the rape trial of a former Idaho lawmaker were to begin another day of deliberations Friday after a dramatic three-day trial in which the accuser, a 19-year-old intern, fled the witness stand during testimony, saying “I can’t do this.”

During closing arguments Thursday, the jury of six men and six women were asked to weigh whether the case involves “power in the wrong hands” used to harm a young legislative intern or consensual sex after a dinner date.

Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of rape and sexual penetration with a foreign object — both charges carry a maximum penalty of up to life in prison — and maintains he had consensual sex with the young woman.

Deliberations stretched for seven hours until nearly 8 p.m. Thursday before the jury decided to break for the evening and start again Friday.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, and has referred to the woman in this case as “Jane Doe” at her request.

Doe told her supervisors that von Ehlinger, who was then a Republican representative from Lewiston, raped her in March 2021 at his Boise apartment after the two had dinner at a restaurant. Von Ehlinger resigned from the House of Representatives last year after a legislative ethics committee recommended that he be banned from the Statehouse because of his conduct with Doe.

When the allegations became public — largely because of the legislative ethics investigation — Doe faced unrelenting harassment from some of von Ehlinger's supporters. Her name, photo and personal details about her life were repeatedly publicized in “doxxing” incidents. One of the people who frequently harassed her was in the courthouse to attend the trial, but law enforcement banned the man from the floor where where case was being heard.

Over the span of three days, jurors heard graphic and sometimes harrowing testimony, including from Doe, who briefly took the witness stand before abruptly standing and leaving the courtroom.

Doe haltingly described the moments the alleged assault began.

“He laid me down ... he removed his clothes ... he climbed on top of me ... in just his boxers. White T-shirt,” Doe said. “He tried to put his fingers between my legs and I closed my knees.”

At that, she stood up.

“I can’t do this,” she said, quickly walking out of the courtroom.

The judge instructed them not to consider her testimony after Doe fled before she could be questioned by the defense.

During closing arguments, Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katelyn Farley told jurors that the case was about “power in the wrong hands" used to the “great devastation” of Doe. Von Ehlinger had social, political and physical power over the petite intern, Farley said.

“He used that power to rape and forcibly penetrate her,” Farley said, pointing at von Ehlinger. Doe resisted in several ways, she said, highlighting the testimony of law enforcement investigators and a nurse sexual assault examiner who interviewed Doe after the alleged assault.

“Words show lack of consent. Excuses of ‘Why this shouldn’t happen,' show lack of consent. Yanking your head back and getting an injury shows lack of consent,” Farley said.

But von Ehlinger's defense attorney Jon Cox told jurors the prosecution's case was made up of “red herrings,” and said von Ehlinger was a credible person who willingly took the stand to share his side of the story.

“Judge his credibility, that's all you can do,” Cox said. “For every assertion that the state has made, or any evidence ... Aaron has given you a, ‘This is what happened.’ That, in and of itself, creates reasonable doubt."

During his testimony, von Ehlinger often spoke in a clear, loud voice directly to jurors, telling them the sexual contact was the culmination of a first date with the intern.

“She was flirting with me, so I thought, 'Why not? Go out to dinner with a person? Why not?'” he said.

After eating at a fancy Boise restaurant, he and Doe decided to return to his apartment, where they began making out on the couch, he said.

“Things were going well, and I asked (Doe) if she would like to move to the bedroom,” von Ehlinger said. “She said ‘Sure.’ We got up, held hands and walked into the bedroom.”

In the bedroom, things became “hot and heavy,” von Ehlinger said, and he stepped away to disrobe behind his closet door, carefully hanging up his suit jacket, tie and slacks, before returning to the bed. At his suggestion, Doe briefly performed oral sex, he said. He also denied carrying a gun that night, and said he seldom carries one.

“Very rarely, and certainly not with a suit on,” von Ehlinger said.

But while under questioning from Farley, he acknowledged that he described the events of that night differently in statements drafted by two different attorneys he previously hired to represent him. In those statements, he said he and Doe took each other's clothes off.

He also said he generally carried concealed weapons when he did carry guns, most often a small handgun that he would place in the front pocket of his jeans or suit pants.

Earlier this week, jurors heard from investigators and a nurse who performed a rape exam. They testified that Doe reported being pinned down while von Ehlinger forced her to perform oral sex, and that she knew he frequently carried a handgun and had placed it on a dresser near the bed at the time of the assault. A nurse also testified that Doe had a “goose egg” on the back of her head from striking the wall or a headboard while trying to jerk her head away from von Ehlinger's grip.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Luka Donic, Mavericks beat Jazz to advance to second round
Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson each scored 24 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 98-96 on Thursday night in Game 6 to wrap up the first-round series
12:45AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Trump endorsement divides Republicans in deep-red Nebraska
In Nebraska, the winner of a crowded Republican primary race for governor will be the overwhelming favorite to win in November
12:45AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Panthers top Senators 4-0, claim NHL's best record, home ice
Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Spencer Knight stopped 27 shots for his second career shutout as the Florida Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0
12:44AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Feds seek nearly $3M from Manafort over undisclosed accounts
The Justice Department is suing Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, seeking to recover nearly $3 million from undeclared foreign bank accounts
10:28PM ( 2 hours ago )
Oklahoma House sends Texas-style abortion ban to governor
The Oklahoma House has given final approval to a Texas-style abortion ban that prohibits abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy
10:04PM ( 2 hours ago )
Bidens show 'The Survivor' for Holocaust Remembrance Week
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have hosted their first official film screening at the White House
8:46PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Biden seeks $33B for Ukraine, signaling long-term commitment
President Joe Biden wants Congress to provide $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia
5:52PM ( 7 hours ago )
In NYC, ads for jobs will have to say what they pay
New York City has passed one of the nation’s most far-reaching requirements for employers to tell job-seekers what they can make
4:57PM ( 8 hours ago )
Top Democrats push for federal crackdown on high gas prices
Democratic leaders have announced an effort to give the Federal Trade Commission increased authority to crack down on oil and gas companies that engage in price gouging
4:28PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Luka Donic, Mavericks beat Jazz to advance to second round
Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson each scored 24 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 98-96 on Thursday night in Game 6 to wrap up the first-round series
12:45AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Trump endorsement divides Republicans in deep-red Nebraska
In Nebraska, the winner of a crowded Republican primary race for governor will be the overwhelming favorite to win in November
12:45AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Panthers top Senators 4-0, claim NHL's best record, home ice
Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Spencer Knight stopped 27 shots for his second career shutout as the Florida Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0
12:44AM ( 14 minutes ago )
An Oval Office visit and a Moscow trip: Inside the Reed deal
A series of factors helped pave the way for Trevor Reed's release from a Russian prison this week as part of a prisoner exchange
12:40AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Perfect Paul, top-seeded Suns finish off Pelicans in Game 6
Chris Paul went 14 for 14 in the best shooting night in NBA playoff history, Devin Booker returned from a hamstring injury to hit a late 3-pointer and the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 115-109 on Thursday night to finish off the first-round series in six games
12:32AM ( 25 minutes ago )