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An Idaho state representative has been censured after sharing personal information about an intern who accused another lawmaker of rape.
Rep. Priscilla Giddings knowingly shared an article online about the 19-year-old intern, including her full name and other identifying details, according to the New York Times. In March, the alleged victim, whose name has not been released, accused State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger of raping her.
Von Ehlinger, 39, resigned one month after the accusation and has maintained that the sex was consensual, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. He was arrested in October after extradition from Georgia to Idaho, shortly after returning from a trip to Central America. He'd been marked a fugitive of justice upon the issuance of a Sept. 9 arrest warrant by the Ada County District Court.
By her own account, the accuser claimed she went to dinner with von Ehlinger before going to his apartment, reported the Capital Sun. There, he forced her to perform oral sex, she alleges.
On Monday, the Idaho House of Representatives officially censured Giddings for her decision to share the accuser’s information on Facebook and in a newsletter to her supporters. Giddings is currently pursuing a nomination for lieutenant governor.
“I would not have done anything differently,” Giddings addressed the Idaho Statehouse, according to the New York Times. “I think my intent was pure.”
Her comments were met with applause from some in the public gallery. Still, despite the ovation, the House voted 49-19 in favor to strip Giddings of her assignment with the Commerce and Human Resources Committee.
During Monday’s two-hour debate, some spoke in favor of the reprimand, including Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, according to the New York Times.
“When we are sent young men and women of this state to care for in this body,” said Nilsson Troy. “I feel we have the responsibility to care for them to a higher standard — that standard we expect of ourselves as representatives.”
In an email cited by the New York Times, Giddings criticized Rep. Scott Bedke, Giddings’ opponent in the race for lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. He presided over the hearing for the censure.
“Stopping this kind of unabashed corruption is exactly why I serve in the legislature,” said Giddings. “And it’s exactly why I’m running.”
Social media has become a platform for people wanting to out their accusers in recent years, an act recently referred to as “doxing.” Notable cases include Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs, who posted the phone number and address of a woman who accused former U.S. President Donald Trump of unwanted sexual contact, according to Business Insider. In 2015, Minneapolis city council member Alondra Cano defended her decision to tweet private details of those who criticized her participation in a Black Lives Matter rally, according to Star Tribune.
Only 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to RAINN (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). In a 2005-2010 study of victims who did not report sexual violence to police, retaliation was cited as the most common reason.
Von Ehlinger pleaded not guilty to felony charges of rape and forcible penetration, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. His trial is scheduled for April 2022.
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