San Francisco Chronicle
Intern harassed by lawmakers after rape report
BOISE, Idaho — The harassment began soon after a report by a 19yearold intern, who alleged an Idaho lawmaker raped her, became public.
One state representative sought a copy of the police report and made inquiries into how the young woman herself could be referred for criminal charges for reporting the alleged rape.
Another — Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from the tiny community of White Bird — shared a link with the intern’s name and photo in a newsletter to constituents and said the allegations were nothing more than a “liberal smear job.”
And members of a farright, antigovernment activist group tried to follow and harass the young woman after she was called to testify in a legislative public ethics hearing.
“I can take criticism. I can take people laying out their opinion on me,” the intern said in a phone interview Sunday evening. “But this, it’s just overwhelming.”
The AP doesn’t name people who report sexual assault unless they agree to be publicly named. The intern asked to use the name “Jane Doe,” which is the name she testified under during a legislative ethics committee hearing last week.
The investigation into then-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, underscores why many alleged sex crimes go unreported.
While the #MeToo movement made it clear that sexual harassment and assault remains a widespread problem, survivors can face stigma and disbelief when they come forward.
About 3 out of every 4 sexual assaults go unreported, according to the Rape and Incest National Network. And data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that as many as onefifth of sexual violence survivors who chose not to report their crimes to police cited the fear of retaliation as a primary reason.
The Idaho probe began in March after the intern reported that the lawmaker raped her in his apartment after they went to a Boise restaurant. Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing and maintains they had consensual sex. The Boise Police Department is investigating.
A legislative ethics committee voted unanimously last week that Von Ehlinger engaged in “conduct unbecoming” a lawmaker. He resigned before the full House could vote on whether to remove him from office.
But the harassment faced by Doe did not stop. Members of the farright are still attacking, some calling her disparaging names and posting her photo.