Former Idaho lawmaker pleads not guilty to rape charges

November 8, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A former Idaho lawmaker has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges and is scheduled to stand trial next spring.

Aaron von Ehlinger, 39, was a Republican state representative from Lewiston when a 19-year-old legislative intern reported that he brought her to his apartment under false pretenses and raped her earlier this year. Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing and maintains he had consensual sexual contact with the woman. The Associated Press doesn’t name people who say they have been sexually assault unless they agree to be publicly named.

During a brief court arraignment on Monday, von Ehlinger pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree rape and forcible penetration by use of a foreign object, and 4th District Judge Michael Reardon set the trial for April 26.

Both rape and forcible penetration by use of a foreign object carry maximum penalties of life in prison.

Earlier this year during a legislative ethics committee hearing, von Ehlinger maintained he did nothing illegal during his encounter with the intern. The committee, however, found that von Ehlinger engaged in “behavior unbecoming” and said they would support a vote to remove him from the Idaho Statehouse. Von Ehlinger resigned from office before the vote was held.