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Idaho state Rep. resigns after Ethics Committee ruled to censure him over rape allegations

Nicole Silverio, DCNF

Republican state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of Idaho resigned Thursday after an ethics committee ruled to censure him over allegations of rape, Fox News reported.

A 19-year old House intern accused von Ehlinger in March of raping her in his apartment after the two went to dinner at a restaurant in Boise, Fox News reported. The representative resigned saying he cannot effectively represent his constituents and denied all the allegations after the Idaho House Ethics Committee unanimously agreed to formally censure and suspend him.

“After careful deliberation and prayer, I have determined that I will not be able to effectively represent my constituents and … have decided to resign my seat effective immediately,” von Ehlinger wrote in his resignation letter. “I maintain my innocence of any wrongdoing of which I have been accused in this matter.”

Von Ehlinger has allegedly pursued and attempted to date multiple women at the Idaho Capitol, according to the Idaho Press. In some instances, it is alleged that he pursued the women sexually, the Idaho Press reported.

Ehlinger testified before the ethics committee on Wednesday, Fox News reported. The committee unanimously agreed that the accusations against von Ehlinger are “unbecoming” and that the representative should not receive pay or benefits, nor return to Capitol grounds and that a substitute legislator fill his place, the Idaho Press reported.

Von Ehlinger pleaded the Fifth during his testimony Wednesday at the recommendation of his legal counsel, Fox News reported. The committee said that his testimony cannot be used in criminal court cases under Idaho state law.

The accuser used the name Jane Doe to protect her identity during the hearing, but some blogs and Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings had revealed her identity in social media posts, which were removed shortly after, according to Fox News.

Republican Gov. Brad Little, who appointed von Ehlinger in June to fill a vacancy, supported the effort to censure him.

“I applaud Jane Doe and the other brave women for their courage in telling their stories and participating in this process to hold Representative Aaron von Ehlinger accountable for his deeply damaging and shameful actions,” the governor said in a statement.

Democratic state Rep. John McCrostie of Idaho said von Ehlinger ignored advice on “appropriate” boundaries in the workplace, creating an “unsafe environment.”

“This pattern of behavior of not only ignoring counsel on appropriate workplace boundaries but also pursuing relationships, including sexual relationships, within the House creates an unsafe environment in the House for any women that the representative may be interested in dating, although at least women who wear wedding bands will supposedly be off limits,” McCrostie said during a House Ethics Committee Hearing Thursday.

Von Ehlinger has not been charged while the Boise Police Department is currently investigating the rape allegations, Fox News reported.

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