This story originally published Jan. 11, 2023, on Idaho Reports.
Fourth District Judge Jason Scott has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Idaho Legislature by a former legislative intern who was raped by ex-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a result of a $200,000 settlement in the case.
The lawsuit’s stipulation to dismiss does not specify many details, other than stating that both parties agreed on Nov. 18 and will bear the cost of their own attorney fees.
Naylor and Hales PC law firm in Boise represented the Idaho House of Representatives in the litigation. The Idaho Controller’s Office has record of a Nov. 3 payment of $200,000 to the firm “in trust of” a person who shares victim Jane Doe’s initials. Idaho Reports, the Idaho Statesman and other media outlets continue to refer to the woman as Jane Doe, per policy to not identify victims of sexual crimes.
The lawsuit also does not name the woman.
A records request sent to the Idaho controller found that the invoice description of the payment calls the $200,000 expense a “liability settlement …/Doe.” The money came from the “retained risk account” of the “risk management liability coverage” fund, according to Transparent Idaho, the state controller’s website.
Idaho Reports made multiple efforts to contact Naylor and Hales but did not receive a response.
When asked last week, Doe’s attorney, Erika Birch, told Idaho Reports that all she could say was “the matter has been resolved.”
An Ada County jury convicted von Ehlinger of felony rape in April 2022. The Republican was sentenced in August to serve up to 20 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after eight. He is incarcerated at the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino.
Von Ehlinger, 40, of Juliaetta, resigned from the House following a public ethics hearing in 2021.
The victim, who was 19 years old at the time of the rape, filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Legislature in September 2021. Her complaint said lawmakers violated the Legislature’s respectful workplace policy. It alleged that “the Legislature knew or should have known about a pattern of sexually inappropriate and/or gender-based behaviors perpetrated by elected officials on females working at the Legislature/conducting legislative business at the Legislature.
“The Legislature, including members in leadership, knew that von Ehlinger had engaged in inappropriate behavior with young women whom he worked with or had contact with via his work as an elected official.”
The complaint argued that the Legislature acted with “reckless disregard and with deliberate indifference to the rights of women in general and Ms. Doe in particular.”
The judge dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 25 “with prejudice,” which means Doe may not bring back a similar lawsuit on the same grounds.
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