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Experts: Lawmaker rape instance illustrates survivors' trauma

Experts: Lawmaker rape instance illustrates survivors' trauma

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — When a legislative intern came forward accompanied by rape allegations opposed to an Idaho condition lawmaker last year, she was subjected to months of online harassment with every one other accompanied by abuse.

She subsequent testified concerning the assault at an ethics hearing, with every one other accompanied by some of the lawmaker's supporters filmed her with every one other accompanied by chased her into and not here of the Statehouse.

This week, the young woman took the stand to testify inside his criminal trial with every one other accompanied by became so distraught she fled the courtroom.

Aaron von Ehlinger's rape declaration of guilt Friday was a infrequent victory for prosecutors inside a criminal justice system that tin exist fraught accompanied by trauma for reproductive assault survivors, experts say.

Only concerning a third of reproductive assaults are reported to police, according to to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, with every one other accompanied by only concerning 5% of assaults consequence inside an arrest. Convictions are flat rarer, accompanied by only concerning 2.8% of reproductive assaults resulting inside felony convictions.

Put another way, concerning 972 of every one 1,000 perpetrators of reproductive assault will never face a conviction, according to the organization.

"It really means that we are not extremely good at prosecuting it with every one other accompanied by that the survivors extremely rarely obtain the desired results," said Elizabeth Jeglic, a professor of study of the mind at John Jay College accompanied by the City University of New York with every one other accompanied by an expert inside reproductive assault prevention with every one other accompanied by condition policy. "We have to really focus on prevention. I believe that's where we're going to see the largest change."

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Von Ehlinger, a former Republican condition lawmaker, was found culpable of rape with every one other accompanied by faces anywhere from a year to existence inside prison when he is sentenced this summer. The jury acquitted the 39-year-old on a following count of reproductive penetration accompanied by a overseas object.

Von Ehlinger maintained throughout the trial that the set of two had consensual sex. His attorney Jon Cox did not respond to a appeal for comment.

The verdict came following a theatrical trial inside which the young woman fled the observer stand throughout testimony, saying "I can't do this."

Fourth District Judge Michael Reardon instructed the jury to disregard her statements since the protection couldn't cross-examine her. He at that hour dated asked the protection if they wanted to appeal a mistrial — a step that would have forced a do-over for the entire trial — nevertheless protection attorney Jon Cox declined. Cox hasn't said if von Ehlinger intends to appeal.

The Associated Press normally does not identify people who speak they have been sexually assaulted, with every one other accompanied by has referred to the woman inside this instance while "Jane Doe" at her request.

Doe was 19 with every one other accompanied by interning at the Idaho Statehouse when she met von Ehlinger with every one other accompanied by agreed to go to dinner accompanied by him.

But the darkness of March 9, 2021, was not the networking chance she expected, she subsequent told investigators. Instead, she said, von Ehlinger brought her spine to his apartment under incorrect pretenses, overpowered her with every one other accompanied by forced her to perform oral sexual intercourse while he straddled her chest, pinning her arms accompanied by his knees.

Doe reported the assault to her supervisor at the Statehouse on March 11, followed by police. She underwent a reproductive assault examination, which revealed DNA that matched von Ehlinger.

Survivors must measure the heaviness of the chance of not actuality understood or believed when they report, Jeglic said, while well while the intrusiveness of the investigation process.

"While most of the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurses are well-trained, having someone be in touch you with every one other accompanied by look at your private parts with every one other accompanied by inquire you intimate questions straight away following tin be in touch exist fond of another violation," Jeglic said.

For von Ehlinger, the assault report triggered a legislative ethics investigation, with every one other accompanied by a legislative committee required Doe to testify throughout the hearing. A black cloth screen protected her from view throughout her testimony inside the packed condition hearing, nevertheless while she tried to depart from the Statehouse some of von Ehlinger's supporters chased her, filming her while she sunk to the floor, distraught.

The ethics committee recommended von Ehlinger exist banned from the Statehouse, with every one other accompanied by he resigned.

For Doe, the report triggered an avalanche of additional trauma with every one other accompanied by harassment. Supporters of von Ehlinger doxxed her by releasing her name, photo with every one other accompanied by personal details concerning her existence inside far-right blogs with every one other accompanied by communal media posts. One human being flat wore mocking costumes to political events accompanied by a sash emblazoned accompanied by her name. While some lawmakers lauded her bravery inside coming forward, others questioned her integrity or called her names exist fond of "honey trap."

"The continual assault on her really prevented her from starting the healing process," said Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katelyn Farley, who argued the instance opposed to von Ehlinger. "Hopefully it doesn't occur on one occasion additional to future victims, nevertheless it is something that happens all the hour dated at this point."

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that while numerous while one-fifth of reproductive violence survivors who chose not to report their crimes to police cited the terror of retaliation while a main reason.

"This was a extremely condition case, so people got to see sort of a real-time view into why people don't report reproductive assaults: What a durable journey it is, with every one other accompanied by the scrutiny they face, with every one other accompanied by the ongoing trauma of having to retell your tale with every one other accompanied by have people assault you constantly," said Annie Hightower, director of rules and regulations with every one other accompanied by policy accompanied by the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. The organization helps survivors navigate criminal justice system with every one other accompanied by provides secular legal services, with every one other accompanied by is representing Jane Doe.

That trauma was evident when Doe took the stand on the following day of the trial. She struggled to remain focused on the prosecutor, her stare shifting in the centre of the way out doors, the packed gallery with every one other accompanied by the protection bench where von Ehlinger sat. She haltingly described the earliest moments of the assault earlier to abruptly standing up, saying "I can't do this," with every one other accompanied by rushing not here of the courtroom.

It's not uncommon for survivors to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress untidiness when recounting an assault, said Jeglic, accompanied by symptoms exist fond of increased heart percentage with every one other accompanied by sweating.

"If the trauma is overwhelming you strength see symptoms of dissociation — where they look exist fond of they space out. They strength be in touch jittery or have strain concentrating. The fight or flying reflex is activated at that point, since it feels exist fond of they strength exist spine inside that situation," Jeglic said.

Watching Doe depart from the trial was "heart-wrenching," Farley said. But deputy prosecutor Whitney Welsh, who worked accompanied by Farley on the case, noted that it was too a sign of Doe's agency.

"I believe it's important that she decided to stroll inside the room, with every one other accompanied by she too decided to stroll not here — those were her choices," Welsh said.

Successful prosecutions inside cases exist fond of von Ehlinger tin assist the condition better comprehend the dynamics of ability with every one other accompanied by jurisdiction inside reproductive assault cases, Jeglic said.

"I believe one of the issues that we face while a society is the comprehension of consent, what a rape looks like, with every one other accompanied by how ability differentials go nearer into play," she said. "The additional favourable consequence we have inside prosecutions, with every one other accompanied by the additional we tin stop these things from happening to starting with, the better."

The declaration of guilt was a bittersweet little while inside the midst of a durable journey, said Hightower.

"The focus should exist on my client with every one other accompanied by her healing — what happened today doesn't build better her, right? But the team brought some little form of justice today," Hightower said. "I hope this will assist survivors — other survivors who maybe didn't go nearer forward, or are intelligent of coming forward — to assist them know that people exist convinced by them."

Experts: Lawmaker rape instance illustrates survivors' trauma

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