Friday, December 01, 2023

Groups call on Giddings to resign

| May 18, 2021 1:00 AM

A coalition of victims advocacy groups and the ACLU of Idaho are calling upon state Rep. Priscilla Giddings to resign.

If Giddings, a Republican representing District 7, does not resign, the groups called upon the Idaho Legislature to file a formal complaint and open an ethics investigation for conduct unbecoming an Idaho legislator.

“Jane Doe trusted her supervisors and the Legislature to respect her privacy and treat her with dignity and respect when she came forward about being sexually assaulted by Rep. von Ehlinger,” said Annie Hightower, legal counsel for Jane Doe as director of law and policy for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. “Instead, Rep. Priscilla Giddings used her state email address and server to publicly identify, mock and further abuse and traumatize her. The House Ethics Committee needs to take action against Rep. Giddings, whose actions are clearly unbecoming of a lawmaker.”

Giddings, R-White Bird, did not respond to an email seeking comment on demands for her resignation or a nearly 6,000-signature petition that calls on Idaho House of Representatives' leadership to launch an ethics investigation into Giddings' actions surrounding a report by a 19-year-old intern, Jane Doe, that she'd been sexually assaulted by now former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger.

The Press does not identify the victims of sexual assaults.

Giddings used public channels, including a newsletter to constituents, to share identifying information about the intern. Last month, von Ehlinger resigned after the House Ethics committee unanimously found that he engaged in “conduct unbecoming of a House member” and recommended expelling him from the Idaho Legislature.

The petition to demand Giddings also be held accountable was coordinated by several Idaho advocacy organizations and community groups who want to  show support and solidarity with Doe, according to a press release from the ACLU of Idaho.

More than 3,000 emails have been sent to House members by the Idaho 97 Project, in addition to the petition signatures from the ACLU of Idaho. 

Monday's action follows a move by the organizations last Thursday to join with the Idaho Female Veterans Network in calling on the U.S. Air Force to investigate her. A major in the Air Force, Giddings left active duty in 2014 and now serves in the Air Force Reserves as the director of Idaho Admissions Liaisons for the Air Force Academy and ROTC.

The Idaho Female Veterans Network, which has six chapters and more than 1,000 members in Idaho, held a vigil on the Idaho Capitol steps to show solidarity for Doe.

“Idaho Female Veterans Network stands with Jane Doe and all survivors of sexual assault and the retaliation that so often happens when someone is brave enough to report,” said Erin Dominguez, founder of Idaho Female Veterans Network. “Maj. Giddings must be held accountable by her peers in the Legislature and the U.S. military.

ACLU of Idaho officials said they also stood in solidarity with Doe, and other survivors who have ever experienced trauma and re-victimization after coming forward to report sexual assault, said Lauren Bramwell, policy strategist at ACLU of Idaho.

“Idahoans deserve to feel safe to come forward to report instances of sexual violence," Bramwell said. "We applaud the thousands of Idahoans from across the state — folks from different political parties and affiliations — who have come together to demand better of our duly elected officials and to speak out against systemic and institutional violence that is all too familiar to survivors of sexual violence.”

Last week, the Idaho Senate adjourned, but Idaho House members passed House Resolution 4, which allows for recess until Speaker of the House Scott Bedke calls the chamber back to Boise. This means an ethics investigation is still not off the table. The House recess allows lawmakers to go back into session without a signature from Gov. Brad Little. Speaker Bedke can make the call no later than Dec. 31.

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