Experts worry voices of sexual assault survivors lost, especially in high-profile cases

Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — One of Idaho’s most prominent court cases came to an end Friday when former Idaho Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger was convicted of raping his then 19-year-old intern.

“While it is great that someone is being held accountable, the way it was gone about I would not call it a victory at all,” said Raylene Abbott with Voices Against Violence.

Abbott tells me the way Jane Doe was treated throughout this case, from being outed by Representative and Lieutenant Governor candidate Priscilla Giddings to her emotional testimony in court, left her beyond disappointed.

“The survivor’s voice and their healing process is the most important thing. And in this case, it was neglected,” said Abbott.

What concerns Abbott the most is the lasting image from this case and how that image will impact future survivors.

“Survivors are watching. Is that the precedent we want to set? Or do we want to trust survivors to choose their own path of healing, to empower them along the way and to offer services and a helping hand where we can,” she said.

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, or RAINN, of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 310 are reported to the police.

Abbott says cases like this threaten to decrease those already dismal reporting numbers, saying the public attention and politically charged nature of this case will keep survivors silent.

She is calling on improvement across the board to do better.

“It’s our job as a justice system, as non-profit organizations across the valley, as press, to make sure that their voice is theirs, their journey to healing is theirs,” said Abbott.

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