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Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Aaron von Ehlinger, a former Republican state lawmaker from Idaho who was convicted in April of raping a legislative intern in 2021, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Under the sentence handed down Wednesday in an in Ada County court, von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he becomes eligible for parole in 2030.

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Before sentencing, the former freshman legislator from Lewiston touted his military service and then told the court that he had taken a holy journey to Israel to confess his sins.

But he did not admit to the crime.

RELATED Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger guilty of rape

Fourth District Judge Michael Reardon scolded the defendant, saying von Ehlinger was trying to portray himself as both "victim" and "hero" in the case.

"Frankly, I don't see you as either one of those things," Reardon said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

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Von Ehlinger was charged with two felony counts of sexual assault after the 19-year-old intern alleged he forced her to perform oral sex following dinner at his apartment in March 2021.

The victim's name was struck from the record to protect her identity, and a recording of her voice was played in court in lieu of taking the stand.

"I hope me coming forward can help forge a path for any future Jane or John Does here in Idaho," the woman said, according to the Statesman. "And to conclude, I hope he rots in pieces behind those cold metal bars."

Von Ehlinger had faced a maximum of life in prison.

Prosecutor Katelyn Marguerite Farley called von Ehlinger unremorseful and noted the "defendant doesn't believe he has done anything wrong" when she asked the judge for at least 15 years to be served followed by an additional 25 years in prison that would include some time on parole.

Von Ehlinger's attorney Jon Cox had asked for just three years before parole eligibility kicked in.

The sentence calls for 12 years of parole and for Von Ehlinger to pay more than $7,000 in penalties and restitution.

The judge revealed that 26 people had written letters in support of von Ehlinger, including one submitted by his ex-spouse, which von Ehlinger mentioned in his statement before being sent away.

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"They say that I'm a good man, they had no problems, that I was a good influence on their sons," he said, according to the Statesman.

Von Ehlinger's sentencing was scheduled for July but was delayed more than a month after a failed motion by his attorney to dismiss the case.

During the trial, prosecutors revealed a pattern of disturbing conduct by von Ehlinger that made other women "extremely uncomfortable" and led to an investigation by an ethics panel that resulted in von Ehlinger resigning his seat only a few months into his first term.

One lobbyist at the state Capitol told the investigative committee that she had seen von Ehlinger walk into a women's restroom while it was occupied.

Another clerk also claimed von Ehlinger asked her on a date even though he knew she was married; and a security guard also testified to an unwanted sexual encounter with von Ehlinger.

"It should be noted that each of these women ... that the defendant pursued at the state Capitol were individuals that had a significant power differential between them and the defendant," Farley said, according to the Statesman. "One was a security guard. One was a journal clerk. One was a lobbyist. And one was an intern."

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