A 19-year-old intern who reported being allegedly raped by an Idaho lawmaker is said to be experiencing harassment from members of the far-right wing as well as other lawmakers. The probe on the case began in March when the intern reported she was raped by lawmaker Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, in his apartment after they had gone to a restaurant in Boise. 

The intern began working in the Idaho Statehouse a year ago under the Legislature’s high school “page” program. She came back this year as a full time intern in the hopes of preparing a future career in the government. 

According to her statement, she had agreed to von Ehlinger’s dinner invitation for a shot at establishing a network. That, as well as the fact she was excited at the thought of dining in a restaurant that she could not afford with her near minimum-wage salary. 

After dinner, von Ehlinger brought her back to his apartment instead of taking her back to her car. He said he had forgotten something but once they arrived at his place, the intern said, he pinned her down and forced her to perform oral sex despite having said “no” in many ways she could muster.

She added von Ehlinger is bigger than her petite frame and all she could do was remain frozen. During the alleged sexual assault, she said she tried to focus on his curtains which were bright red and calling it American red.

The intern reported the incident two days later after which came a series of forensic exams, along with reports to the Idaho attorney general and interviews with the ethics committee. The committee then announced a public hearing would be held, making the intern’s complaint public on April 16.

According to ABC News, within hours of the hearing, von Ehlinger's supporters began publicizing her identity. One of his attorneys released a letter to the media identifying the intern’s real name while two far-right websites posted her name as well as details about her life, and her photo.

Rep. Priscilla Giddings shared the link with the intern’s name and photo in a newsletter to constituents and said the allegations were nothing more than a “liberal smear job.” She also shared the blog post with thousands of followers on social media, making the intern’s identity widely known.

Upon returning to work, the intern had no idea that her identity had been made public until her next shift at the Statehouse. She had to keep showing up for work as the ethics committee told her she needed to be available.

“The secretaries let me know what Giddings had done that and they were showing me the article,” she said adding that the atmosphere at work seemed to have changed and everyone was looking at her through a magnifying glass.

Lawyers with the attorney general’s office also questioned her about her movements around the Statehouse. When she tried to ask the governor for a photo, staffers assumed she just wanted to complain, the intern said.

At the same time this was happening, Rep. Heather Scott, a Republican from the community of Blanchard, filed a public record request with the city of Boise seeking a copy of the young woman's police report. Scott approached Rep. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat from Boise, to ask about how a person who files a false police report alleging sexual assault could be charged.

While the Boise Police Department is currently investigating the case, a legislative ethics committee unanimously voted that von Ehlinger engaged in a “conduct unbecoming” of a lawmaker. He resigned even before the House could vote on that matter of removing him from office.

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