Lewiston Rep. Von Ehlinger accused of unwanted sexual contact

Aaron Von Ehlinger
Credit: Idaho Legislature

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho legislative ethics committee is investigating reports that Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger had what he called “unconsented sexual contact” with an adult volunteer, a newspaper reported.

Von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, denied the allegation, The Lewiston Tribune reported Friday. He did not describe the complaint’s allegations, and it wasn’t clear where the alleged sexual contact took place.

“This episode is an embarrassment to me, but I assure my constituents in Nez Perce and Lewis counties that I have not broken any laws or legislative rules, nor have I violated the concepts of appropriate social conduct,” he told the newspaper in a prepared statement.

Von Ehlinger’s attorney, former Lt. Gov. David Leroy, declined to discuss details but said the allegations were false and that he would vigorously contest the claims. He said an ethics committee would likely make the complaint public soon.

Von Ehlinger was appointed to his post last summer after his predecessor, Rep. Thyra Stevenson, died, and then last November he was elected to a two-year term.

In January, he was granted a full pardon for several misdemeanor offenses he committed between 1996 and 2013.

The charges ranged from driving an unregistered motorcycle to possessing drug paraphernalia and reckless driving.

He later said most of the misdemeanors stemmed from “issues I needed to work out” after he returned from serving three years in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Afghanistan.

Under legislative rules, the House Ethics Committee is expected to hold a public hearing on the complaint. During the hearing, evidence and testimony can be presented and Von Ehlinger could present a defense.

Then the committee, made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, will make a recommendation to the entire House on whether the charges should be dismissed or if action should be taken. Penalties can range from a formal reprimand, censure or expulsion.