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Intern Who Accused Former Lawmaker of Rape Can’t Complete Testimony, Flees Courtroom

An intern who accused an Idaho lawmaker of rape abruptly left the courtroom in the middle of her testimony Wednesday afternoon.

Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, was a Republican state representative when he allegedly raped the then-19-year-old intern after the two had dinner together in March 2021, KIDK reported.

He resigned a year ago after an ethics committee ruled he displayed “conduct unbecoming a representative” by sexually pursuing several women, including the intern, who worked at the Capitol building in Boise.

The rape charges were filed in September.

The intern, identified in court documents as J.V., told investigators and the nurse who examined her after the alleged assault that von Ehlinger pinned her down, penetrated her with his finger, forced his penis into her mouth, and masturbated on her while she tried to pull away, repeatedly telling him “no” and that he was hurting her.

But on the stand on Wednesday, she answered questions from prosecutor Katelyn Farley quietly, often in monosyllables. She testified that von Ehlinger asked her on a date and that the pair went to dinner, then back to his apartment. She recalled eating Oreos while there before she said he picked her up and carried her to his bedroom.

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

At that point, J.V. stopped talking and looked toward the door at the back of the courtroom. “I can’t do this anymore,” she said, and left.

Judge Michael Reardon gave prosecutors 10 minutes to convince her to return, and when it was clear she would not, he ordered her testimony stricken from the record and the jury to “strike (J.V.’s) testimony from your minds as if it never happened,” because the defense did not have an opportunity to cross-examine.

The prosecution called one more witness to the stand, a Boise State University professor who is an expert on victims of sexual assault. Laura King told the jury that sexual assault causes a trauma that can create “tonic immobility” — not able to move, speak, or fight back — and that recounting a sexual assault can lead to similar issues.

The prosecution rested its case after King’s testimony. Earlier in the day, J.V.’s mother testified that her daughter called and told her about the alleged assault and that she had urged her to report it. She did, to the assistant sergeant-of-arms for the Idaho House of Representatives, Kim Blackburn.

Blackburn testified that J.V. told her about the assault and that she took the report to Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. J.V. underwent a sexual assault exam that same day and also spoke with detectives.

The trial will resume Thursday morning with the defense case, KIDK said. Attorney Jon Cox told Reardon he might call von Ehlinger to the stand but won’t call any other witnesses since J.V.’s testimony had been thrown out.

The case could go to the jury as early as Thursday afternoon.

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[Featured image: Aaron von Ehlinger/Ada County Sheriff’s Office]