Ex-Republican Lawmaker’s Trial for Raping Teen Intern Goes Off the Rails

Ex-Republican Lawmaker’s Trial for Raping Teen Intern Goes Off the Rails

A disgraced Republican lawmaker charged with raping a teenage intern testified on Thursday that he believed the act had been consensual, following a first date he described as a successful one.

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

When it became apparent that Doe would not be returning, the prosecution rested its case, bringing an abrupt end to a lurid trial that has captured national attention.

Given Doe could not be cross-examined, Judge Michael Reardon ordered her testimony stricken from the record, telling jurors to disregard everything she said. The jury will now have to deliberate “as if she never showed up at all,” said criminal defense lawyer David P. Shapiro, who is not involved with the case but who has handled numerous similar ones.

“It’s hard to unring that bell,” Shapiro told The Daily Beast. Still, he continued, “It will be very very difficult, if not impossible, to get a conviction without her testimony.”

Prosecutors allege von Ehlinger, 39, forced Doe, 19, to perform oral sex on him, and penetrated her with his finger at his Boise home after the two went out to dinner in March 2021. Von Ehlinger resigned the next month before he could be expelled from the state legislature, following a bipartisan ethics committee’s finding that he engaged in “behavior unbecoming.” That September, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was taken into custody later that month at Atlanta’s international airport as he returned to the U.S. from an extended vacation in Central America—which von Ehlinger’s lawyer insisted had been pre-planned and not an attempt to evade justice.

Doe, for her part, was targeted by von Ehlinger’s fellow Republicans from the get-go. Last August, Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from the tiny town of White Bird, exposed Doe’s identity on social media and in an email to constituents, with right-wing blogs subsequently posting Doe’s name and photo online.

In his testimony, von Ehlinger said he met Doe and gave her his cellphone number after inviting her up to his office to look at his artwork in January 2021. He said they would see each other around the Statehouse once in a while, and would talk. But he was not hitting on her, he insisted.

The two made dinner plans in early March after Doe texted him to say hi, 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. Neither of them drank any alcohol during the three-hour meal, he said.

Doe held his hand on the ride back to his place, von Ehlinger claimed, noting that when they arrived at his apartment building, he parked in a handicapped spot and took Doe upstairs.

“Things were going well, and I asked… if she would like to move to…

Read Full Story At: The Daily Beast.

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