Former Idaho legislator was returning from Central America when arrested in Georgia
Jacob Scholl, and Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Former Idaho legislator Aaron von Ehlinger had been in Central America since May and was in the process of returning to Idaho when he was arrested in Georgia over the weekend, his attorney said Wednesday.
After hearing of the two felony charges he faces — rape, and sexual penetration with a foreign object — Von Ehlinger contacted Boise attorney Jon Cox. Von Ehlinger planned to turn himself in and contest the charges, Cox said.
Von Ehlinger, who lives in the Lewiston area, planned to arrive in Spokane last Friday on his way home, but had a “hiccup” in his travels and missed a connecting flight to Houston, Cox said. He ended up flying to Atlanta on Saturday instead.
Cox said when the plane landed, von Ehlinger was instructed to leave the plane before other passengers, and he was taken into custody immediately after.
Cox, a prominent local attorney who held a Wednesday press conference in his downtown Boise office, said that von Ehlinger was not fleeing the country, despite being labeled as a fugitive in a Georgia jail’s booking reports.
“Obviously there’s some speculation that he was on the run,” Cox said, but von Ehlinger was “certainly not on the run. We’ve been in contact with officials the entire time.”
A spokesperson for the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office was not immediately available for comment.
Von Ehlinger was booked into the Clayton County jail at around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to court records. The jail is located in Jonesboro, which is south of Atlanta. As of Wednesday, jail records show he is still in the custody of the facility.
The former state representative faces the two felony charges in Ada County’s 4th District Court. Von Ehlinger is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in March. The woman was serving as a legislative intern in the Statehouse.
The Boise Police Department began an investigation into the allegations and sent the case to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office to screen for charges. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Sept. 9.
Von Ehlinger — who was appointed in June 2020 to represent Idaho’s 6th House District — resigned from the Legislature in April. The resignation came shortly after an Idaho House ethics committee recommended unanimously that he be removed from his seat for conduct unbecoming a House member. He and the woman testified during the hearing.
Since the allegations surfaced, von Ehlinger has denied any wrongdoing, including in his resignation letter to the House. The woman filed a tort claim earlier this month targeting the Legislature and several members in connection with the handling of her case. The claim is the necessary precursor to a lawsuit.