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Lawmaker who ID'd rape accuser may lose committee assignment

Lawmaker who ID'd rape accuser may lose committee assignment

A legislative ethics committee says an Idaho lawmaker who publicized the name of an intern who reported a rape should be stripped of one of her committee assignments for acting in an a manner “unbecoming” to the state’s House of RepresentativesBy REBECCA BOONE Associated PressAugust 3, 2021, 5:35 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBOISE, Idaho — A legislative ethics committee says an Idaho lawmaker who publicized the name of an intern who reported a rape by another lawmaker should be stripped of one of her committee assignments for acting in an a manner “unbecoming” to the state’s House of Representatives.The full House will now be asked to vote on the recommendation made Tuesday, but they will have to reconvene for the vote. It’s unclear when that will happen, but it could be any time before the Legislature’s next session begins in January.Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings became the subject of two ethics complaints by about two dozen lawmakers after she shared links to a far-right blog that included the name, photo and personal details about her the young woman who reported being raped by the lawmaker. Giddings posted the link on social media and in a newsletter to constituents.The decision came on the second day of a public hearing, during which the committee found that Giddings engaged in “conduct unbecoming a representative, which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.”The lawmaker accused of raping the intern, Republican Aaron von Ehlinger, resigned earlier this year after the ethics committee recommended he be removed from the Statehouse. Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing. The rape allegation is under investigation by police.Giddings declined to attend much of the hearing, appearing only on Monday to make an opening statement and again when she was called as a witness.During her testimony, Giddings maintained that she had to share the link to the article presenting von Ehlinger’s side of the story, but didn’t explain why she included disparaging remarks about the 19-year-old intern who made the rape report. The Associated Press does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission.Giddings also claimed she did nothing wrong, claimed the intern wasn’t a crime victim, and refused to answer questions that she said she considered “irrelevant.”Her combativeness and evasive answers left committee members visibly frustrated on Monday, with Republican chairman Rep. Sage Dixon at one point warning her that she seemed to be continuing with evasive behavior that prompted part of the ethics complaints in the first place.

Idaho man gets life in prison in cold-case murder and rape

Idaho man gets life in prison in cold-case murder and rape

Eighteen-year-old Angie Dodge was raped and killed in her Idaho home a quarter-century ago and an innocent man wrongly served 20 years in prison for the crimeBy REBECCA BOONE Associated PressJune 11, 2021, 8:55 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBOISE, Idaho — Eighteen-year-old Angie Dodge was raped and killed in her Idaho home a quarter-century ago and an innocent man wrongly served 20 years in prison for the crime. On Tuesday, the man authorities have said is the real killer was sentenced to life in prison.Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., 55, must serve at least 20 years in prison before he will be eligible for parole, 7th District Judge Joel Tingey said.Dripps’ defense attorneys say his medical problems — including a history of heart issues and an autoimmune disease — makes it unlikely that he will live long enough to get parole.“Twenty-five years is a long time to wait for some type of closure on such a brutal crime,” Tingey said. “ … It’s impossible to quantify how much damage has been caused, and it’s spread wide.”Angie Dodge had just moved into her own apartment in Idaho Falls in 1996 when she was killed. Prosecutors said Dodge was asleep when Dripps entered her apartment and that he raped her and cut her throat so severely that she was nearly decapitated.Immediately after the killing, investigators zeroed in on another suspect — Christopher Tapp.Officers with the Idaho Falls Police Department repeatedly questioned him for hours, feeding him details of the case and telling him he could face the death penalty unless he implicated himself and another suspect. Tapp eventually wrongfully confessed to the crime, though he later professed his innocence, and was convicted.But Tapp had the support of the advocacy group the Idaho Innocence Project at Boise State University, and eventually Dodge’s mother, Carol Dodge, and the New York-based Innocence Project.DNA evidence collected from the crime scene wasn’t tested until 2016 and it showed that Tapp’s genetic material wasn’t present in the sample. He was released in 2017 after reaching a deal in which his murder sentence was reduced to time served and the rape conviction was vacated.Meanwhile, investigators periodically worked the cold case, hoping to uncover what really happened the night Dodge was killed.They began using DNA databases to try to find a suspect or someone likely to be related to the person who left the DNA.After a few dead ends, in 2019 they discovered a possible suspect who had lived in Idaho Falls at the time of the murder and was now living across the state in Caldwell — Brian Dripps Sr.Law enforcement officers tailed Dripps and scooped up a cigarette butt he’d thrown from a car window. It had enough DNA present to show it matched the sample left at the crime scene back in 1996.When confronted by police, Dripps confessed, saying he was high on cocaine and alcohol and had planned to rape Dodge, not murder her. He claimed he did not remember cutting Dodge’s throat. But he did not deny it.Dripps’ confession led to Tapp being formally exonerated of the crimes.“A young man spent a significant portion of his life in prison for no good reason. He was innocent. That falls on you,” the judge told Dripps during the sentencing hearing.Angie Dodge’s brother, Todd Dodge, told the court that Dripps “dropped an atomic bomb in the center of our family and our community” and spoke of the guilt and frustration that he, jurors and others involved in the original trial against Tapp felt after learning Tapp was innocent.“He sentenced me to a lifetime of hell — so far I have served 9,126 days,” Todd Dodge said of Dripps.Another brother, Roger Dodge, said Angie Dodge’s murder is the most devastating thing he’s ever experienced.Dripps also spoke, offering an apology.“I am sorry. I didn’t intend for this to happen,” he said. “Wish we could have a chance at a do-over because I would do over that day … I know you’ll never forgive me but I am sorry.”