The Idaho woman who was a legislative intern when she was raped by former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, filed a lawsuit against him and former Rep. Priscilla Giddings.
Von Ehlinger, who was convicted last year, is in custody at the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino serving a 20-year sentence, with eight of those years fixed, meaning he is not eligible for parole until to spend at least that time in prison.
After a 12-person jury found von Ehlinger guilty last April, he tried and failed to overturn his rape conviction on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence. After he was convicted, he appealed his conviction at the Idaho Supreme Court in September. That appeal is ongoing.
Giddings, a former far-right lawmaker from White Bird, lost his bid for lieutenant governor in the 2022 Republican primary to Scott Bedke. Giddings, first elected in 2016, he was removed from a legislative committee in November 2021 and censored after sharing a Redoubt News article that identified the victim.
Identified as Jane Doe or the initials JV in court documents, the former intern filed 11 claims for relief against the two former lawmakers, including invasion of privacy, defamation, negative influence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the assault and battery claims against von. Ehlinger, among others. She was 19 years old at the time of the sexual assault in March 2021; von Ehlinger was 39 years old.
In the 27-page lawsuit, the former intern alleges that Giddings and von Ehlinger engaged in conduct to punish and discourage her from participating in a House Ethics Committee hearing and otherwise cooperating with law enforcement. during the investigation.
JV also alleges in the new lawsuit that the two legislators violated his equal protection rights as a legislative employee, calling his efforts to reveal his identity and refute the claims of sexual assault a “campaign of harassment.”
This is not the first lawsuit that JV has filed. She reportedly settled a lawsuit against the Idaho Legislature in November, after the lawsuit was dismissed and a $200,000 payment was made to someone with her initials, according to Idaho Reports.
“After being informed that von Ehlinger had sexually assaulted her, defendants von Ehlinger and Giddings, acting individually and in concert, engaged in a campaign of harassment against plaintiff, a female sexual assault survivor , in violation of their equal protection rights” the complaint.
JV said the harassment included releasing her identity as well as personal information about her and her family to the public, and relaying defamatory information. JV said von Ehlinger shared false information that she engaged in consensual behavior with him.
The complaint also indicates that Giddings – via his legislative email – sent an update that included “defamatory and insulting comments” about JV and called the Ethics Committee process “reminiscent of so many national witch hunts ‘Me too’ “. Giddings also called JV a “tramp” and testified that he believed the former intern was under the influence of drugs.
The Idaho Statesman has reached out to Giddings for comment on the lawsuit.
JV also accuses von Ehlinger’s then-lawyer, David Leroy, of sending several reporters an unredacted copy of von Ehlinger’s written response to the ethics panel on April 16, 2021 — which contained not only defamatory statements, but “intimate details” about JV. be asked by the JV lawyer and a lawyer representing the legislative committee to redact any personal information.
Two days later, Leroy told JV’s lawyers that he was no longer representing von Ehlinger and said he made a “mistake in releasing the report without redaction and (I) deeply apologize to your client.” , according to the complaint. She then emailed Giddings the next day and said that if she had sent the far-right website Redoubt News the unredacted response, he would suggest she ask him to “delete it immediately,” the complaint
According to the complaint, JV suffered severe emotional distress, loss of reputation and loss of an internship position and its benefits, among other things.
JV tried to testify in court during von Ehlinger’s trial, but after a few minutes she abruptly left the courtroom and the jury was not allowed to consider her testimony. In the moments leading up to JV’s exit, he started counting the rape.
She exit the courtroomsaying, “I can’t do this.”
With his lawsuit, the former inmate is seeking relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs and interest.