Screen House Ethics

During a House Ethics Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, a young House intern identified only as "Jane Doe" testified from behind the black screen at right, in the Capitol's Lincoln Auditorium.

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House Democrats have issued a statement saying they are "in awe of Jane Doe's bravery in coming forward and testifying before the House Ethics Committee," and applauding both the Ethics Committee action and Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger's resignation from the House. The full statement is below. Erika Birch, Jane Doe's attorney, said today that while she was told earlier that Doe would be served with a subpoena requiring her to testify, she never was served; her attorneys told the committee they "were not accepting service on her behalf because we thought it was abhorrent to require her to show up and relive what happened to her at a public hearing."

"Then she chose to show up and testify," Birch said. The young woman testified from behind a screen to guard her privacy. Birch said her attorneys were concerned, "But she did, bless her heart, show up and tell her truth."

Here is the House Democrats' full statement:

“We are in awe of Jane Doe’s bravery in coming forward and testifying before the House Ethics Committee. We also applaud the other women who spoke during the hearing and shared their stories. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make a report and participate in such a public process.

If we are to eliminate sexual assault and abuse, we must create an environment for safe, supportive reporting by survivors. We are deeply disappointed that at least one lawmaker, a journalist, and several audience members at the hearing sought to reveal Jane Doe’s identity and further traumatize her.

Our caucus is thankful for the committee’s due diligence in this matter, and know their recommendation was made after an exhaustive investigation and careful deliberations. We completely support their recommendation, as well as Rep. von Ehlinger’s decision to resign. However, we wish he would have done this before forcing Jane Doe and the other women to relive their experiences within the public sphere. His actions were inexcusable, and the behavior he displayed must not be tolerated here — or anywhere. We have to ensure individuals always remain accountable for their actions no matter their station.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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