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Former Idaho Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger sentenced to at least 8 years in prison

Aug. 31, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 31, 2022 at 8:02 p.m.

Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger looks around the room before the start of his sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise on Wednesday. He was convicted of raping a legislative intern in April.  (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)
Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger looks around the room before the start of his sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise on Wednesday. He was convicted of raping a legislative intern in April. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)
By Alex Brizee Idaho Statesman

Former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger – who rarely expressed any emotion during the hourlong sentencing – listened as a district judge sentenced him to spend at least the next eight years in prison after raping a legislative intern last year.

Fourth District Judge Micheal Reardon on Wednesday sentenced von Ehlinger to a total of 20 years, with at least eight years to be served in prison. The other 12 years could be spent in prison, on parole or both. He is also expected to pay a civil penalty of $5,000 and $2,015 in restitution.

Reardon said that he noted two words that von Ehlinger called himself during his statement “victim” and “hero.”

“Frankly, I don’t see you as either one of those things,” Reardon told him.

Von Ehlinger was found guilty of the rape by a 12-person jury in April. The former intern, 19 at the time of the sexual assault, said he forced her to perform oral sex at his Boise apartment after they had dinner.

The woman was kept anonymous throughout the trial and was referred to only as J.V. in court records. In an audio recorded statement played to the court, J.V. said she felt ashamed throughout the criminal justice process but hoped coming forward would help other survivors of sexual assault.

“I hope he rots in pieces behind those cold metal bars,” J.V. said.

Under Idaho law, the maximum sentence von Ehlinger could have received was life in prison. Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Katelyn Margueritte Farley asked Reardon to sentence the former lawmaker to at least 15 years in prison, with another 25 years to be spent in prison, on parole or both. Von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, argued for three years fixed, seven years indeterminate.

“That night is a night that J.V. should never have to go through,” Farley said, as she advocated for a harsher sentence for the former Lewiston lawmaker. “The defendant doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong.”

Von Ehlinger was originally supposed to be sentenced in July. The sentencing was postponed due to a motion submitted by von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, to retry or acquit his rape case. Reardon denied the motion last week.

Reardon said in court last week that in a case like von Ehlinger’s, in which the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty, he’s not “inclined to try and second-guess that jury’s decision.”

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