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Former Idaho Rep. Von Ehlinger pleads not guilty to rape, forcible penetration charges

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Former Idaho Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, stands next to von Ehlinger at his preliminary hearing at the Ada County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

Jury trial to scheduled in district court to begin in April

Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger pleaded not guilty to felony charges of rape and forceible penetration by use of a foreign object during his arraingment Monday afternoon.

Following the not guilty pleas entered by von Ehlinger’s attorney Jon Cox, District Judge Michael J. Reardon scheduled a jury trial in the matter for April 26. Reardon told attorneys on the case he would set aside four or five days for the trial.

Von Ehlinger, 39, is accused of raping a 19-year-old legisltive intern after the two allegedy went out to dinner and returned to von Ehlinger’s apartment. During an April 28 hearing at the Idaho Statehouse, the woman, who is referred to as Jane Doe, testified that von Ehlinger held her down and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

Von Ehlinger has maintained his innocence. During the April ethics hearing, von Ehlinger testified that the sexual activity was consensual. The Idaho Capital Sun does not name alleged victims of rape or sexual assualt.

Von Ehlinger spoke briefly during Monday’s arraignment, which was streamed online remotely. Von Ehlinger told the judge he understood the charges against him and the potential penalties. He also said he understood his rights.

Von Ehlinger, a Republican who had represented Lewis and Nez Perce counties, resigned from the Legislature on April 29 after the House Ethics and Policy Committee recommended the full Legislature expel him.

Some time thereafter, von Ehlinger flew to Central America. Cox said von Ehlinger made the trip as part of a pre-planned vacation, not an attempt to elude authorities.

On Sept. 9, Ada County District Court issued a warrant for von Ehlinger’s arrest following an investigation by the Boise Police Department, the Lewiston Tribune first reported.

On Sept. 24, von Ehlinger was arrested as a fugitive of justice in Atlanta after his flight from Central America landed in the United States, Clayton County, Georgia records indicated. Von Ehlinger remained in custody in Georgia until Oct. 8, when he was extradited to Idaho. After returning to Idaho, von Ehlinger was arrested in Ada County on felony charges of rape and forcible penetration, processed and released.

If convicted, von Ehlinger could face up to life in prison and have to register with the Idaho Sex Offender Registry.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.