A legislative intern who accused an Idaho lawmaker of rape said she was harassed by right-wing lawmakers and activists

Aaron von Ehlinger
Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, left, sits next to his attorney while waiting for a legislative ethics committee to begin, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Boise, Idaho.

  • An intern who accused an Idaho lawmaker of rape said she was harassed by right-wing lawmakers and activists, the AP reported.
  • Former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger resigned last week after a state ethics committee unanimously voted to recommend expelling him.
  • One state lawmaker shared the woman’s name and photo, calling her allegations a “liberal smear job.”
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A 19-year-old legislative intern who accused a former Idaho lawmaker of rape said she was harassed by right-wing lawmakers and activists after she reported the incident, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

In March, an intern reported that then-GOP Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger raped her in his apartment after they went to a restaurant in Boise, Idaho.

The Boise Police Department launched an investigation into the incident shortly after. Von Ehlinger denied he assaulted her and said they had consensual sex.

A legislative ethics committee unanimously voted to recommend expelling von Ehlinger for demonstrating “conduct unbecoming” of a lawmaker. He resigned before the committee could vote on his removal.

After the intern, who was referred to as Jane Doe, reported the incident, GOP state Rep. Priscilla Giddings identified the intern by name and used a photo of her in a newsletter, describing the sexual allegations as a “liberal smear job,” the AP reported.

“The secretaries let me know that Giddings had done that and they were showing me the article, and my life is crashing before my eyes,” the intern told the AP.

GOP state Rep. Heather Scott filed a request to obtain a copy of the police report of the incident.

“Members of a far-right, anti-government activist group tried to follow and harass the young woman after she was called to testify in a legislative public ethics hearing,” according to the AP report.

“I can take criticism. I can take people laying out their opinion on me,” the intern told the AP. “But this, it’s just overwhelming.”

The intern told the AP that she first worked at the Idaho Statehouse under the state government’s high school “page” program. She returned as an intern following graduation, and she agreed to a dinner with von Ehlinger in hopes to network.

After the dinner, the intern said von Ehlinger brought her back to his apartment because he said he had forgotten something, where she said he pinned her down and forced her to perform oral sex even though she had said “no,” the AP reported.

The woman told the AP that von Ehlinger had a “collection of guns” so she felt “fight or flight was never an option.” She said she tried to divert her attention during the alleged rape by getting “fixated on his curtains because they were bright red.”

“I named them ‘American red’ in my head, because it was bright like the stripes in the flag,” she told the AP. “I just stared at it … I will never forget how disgusting I felt.”

The woman reported the incident two days later and the state ethics committee made the incident public in April after announcing a public hearing would be held.

After the newsletter with her name and picture was distributed, the intern told the AP that she still returned to work, but “nobody had the humanity to even look me in the eye, like I brought shame.”

“They made it seem as if everything I do is suspicious,” she said.

Despite the harassment from right-wing activists, as well as tensions within the statehouse itself, the intern said she will continue to ensure the statehouse will enact policies to prevent what happened to her from happening again.

“This has all been pushed at me against my will after my repeated attempts at ‘No,'” she told AP. “But I’m taking my voice back. It’s mine, it’s not theirs.”

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Pakistan’s leader blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dress, saying ‘vulgarity’ has ‘consequences’ and men lack ‘willpower’

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, said in April that the country was using a system intended to surveil terrorists to monitor the coronavirus.

  • Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan suggested the way women dress is to blame for rape.
  • “If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences,” Khan said on Monday.
  • Khan’s remarks have sparked widespread criticism, including from his ex-wife.
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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing allegations of victim-blaming after attributing a rise in rape cases to how women dress.

“Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences,” Khan said during a television interview on Monday, per the New York Times, prompting widespread backlash. The Pakistani leader said women should adhere to “purdah,” referring to a concept involving women wearing modest or concealing clothing and the segregation of the sexes.

Human rights groups and even Khan’s first wife have condemned his remarks.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Khan’s comments showed “a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors,” per Reuters.

Jemima Goldsmith, a British heiress and Khan’s ex-wife, took to Twitter to decry his comments.

“I remember years ago being in Saudi Arabia and an elderly woman in an abaya & niqab was lamenting the fact that when she went out she was followed & harassed by young men. The only way to get rid of them was to take her face covering OFF. The problem is not how women dress!” Goldsmith tweeted.

In a separate tweet, Goldsmith said, “I’m hoping this is a misquote/ mistranslation. The Imran I knew used to say, “Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman.”

Khan’s office released a statement that said his comments had been taken out of context and misinterpreted. “The Prime Minister said that our strict anti-rape laws alone will not be able to stem the rise in sex crime. The whole society has to fight it together including lowering exposure to temptation,” the statement said.

In 2020, thousands of Pakistanis flooded the streets after a police official in Lahore said a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly to blame. The Pakistani government responded to the outcry by passing a measure that said men convicted of rape could be sentenced to chemical castration. Still, rape convictions in Pakistan are rare. Fewer than 3% of sexual assault or rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction, per the Karachi-based non-governmental organization War Against Rape.

Human rights groups have said that rape is an underreported crime in Pakistan largely because women who come forward are ostracized and treated like criminals.

Human Rights Watch says “violence against women and girls-including rape, so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage-remains a serious problem” in Pakistan, adding that “Pakistani activists estimate that there are about 1,000 ‘honor’ killings every year.”

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Those who get drunk on their own can’t be considered ‘mentally incapacitated’ in rape cases, Minnesota Supreme Court says

Paul Thissen
Justice Paul Thissen in a Feb. 25, 2016 file photo.

  • Rape victims who get drunk on their own aren’t “mentally incapacitated,” Minnesota high court said.
  • “Mentally incapacitated” applies when someone gets drunk without their consent, the court said.
  • Sexual assault survivors and advocates decried the ruling but said they weren’t surprised.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An individual who gets drunk on their own can not be qualified as “mentally incapacitated” in a rape case, the Minnesota Supreme Court said in a ruling released Wednesday.

The ruling comes in the case of man who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met following an incident where she was denied entry to a bar for being too drunk.

Francois Momolu Khalil was appealing the 2019 case in which he was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct because the woman was considered “mentally incapacitated.”

Court documents from the appeal said Khalil and two of his friends invited the woman and a friend to a party but instead took them to a private home where the woman, who was only identified by her initials, blacked out.

She woke up to find Khalil raping her. After telling him to stop, she then passed out again.

In a decision written by Justice Paul Thissen, the state’s supreme court said that the definition of “mentally incapacitated” – which was used by the lower court – “does not include a person who is voluntarily intoxicated by alcohol,” meaning that the designation only applies when the alcohol was given to someone without their knowledge.

This “unreasonably strains and stretches the plain text of the statute,” they added.

The ruling has garnered criticism from sexual assault survivors and advocates, including Abby Honold, who told MPR News that the language of the statute has always been a loophole that makes it difficult for sexual assault survivors to bring cases forward.

“There are a lot of people who are told when they report now, and when their case is referred to a prosecutor that essentially their sexual assault was technically legal. It’s always so heartbreaking to have to hear that from yet another survivor who came forward and reported,” Honold told the outlet.

In response to the ruling, state rep. Kelly Moller said she is sponsoring legislation that says consent can’t be given if a victim is incapacitated, even if they voluntarily took drugs or alcohol.

“Victims who are intoxicated to the degree that they are unable to give consent are entitled to justice. Our laws must clearly reflect that understanding, and today’s Supreme Court ruling highlights the urgency lawmakers have to close this and other loopholes throughout our CSC law,” Rep. Moller said.

“Prosecutors, survivors, and advocates have identified the problem and the CSC Working Group did incredibly tough work to identify the solutions. Minnesotans who experience unthinkable trauma deserve to see the Legislature take action on this immediately.”

Khalil is serving a five-year prison sentence but his lawyer, Will Walker, told MPR News that he anticipates he will be released soon.

Insider has reached out to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office for comment.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com

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