Florida’s ex-GOP chair Christian Ziegler won’t face rape charge, still could be arrested for video voyeurism
Author: Jacob Ogles
Police won’t charge Christian Ziegler with rape, but he could still be prosecuted for video recording himself having sex with a woman who previously had threesomes with the former Florida Republican leader and his wife, Moms For Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler.
The Sarasota Police Department announced it had forwarded findings of a criminal investigation to prosecutors. Police have investigated Christian Ziegler since early October when a Sarasota woman said she had been raped by him in her apartment.
When police investigated Ziegler, he produced a two-and-a-half-minute video he took of the October 2 sexual encounter on his cell phone. Police say that based on footage, the sex “was likely consensual.”
But when police showed the video to the woman leveling the accusation, she said Zeigler had filmed the act without her knowledge or consent. The accuser also maintained from the beginning of the investigation she had been drinking before Ziegler showed up at her apartment and forced her to have sex over a barstool.
Based on the woman’s testimony that she was filmed without permission, police on Friday submitted a probable cause affidavit to the State Attorney’s Office for a charge of video voyeurism. That leaves it to prosecutors whether to pursue criminal charges.
Throughout the investigation, the woman told police both Christian and Bridget Ziegler had planned a threesome with her the day of the incident, but when Christian told her Bridget could not attend, the woman canceled and told Christian not to come over. He showed up five minutes after she sent that message.
She told police Ziegler intercepted her at the door. Surveillance video later suggested she allowed him into the apartment.
During interviews, Bridget Ziegler admitted to investigators that the couple engaged in a threesome with the woman more than a year prior to the incident.
The scandal has brought significant political repercussions for the once-powerful Florida power couple, who have always promoted socially conservative politics. Bridget Ziegler stood by Gov. Ron DeSantis as he signed the state’s notorious “don’t say gay” law.
Since details of the scandal emerged, the conservative Leadership Institute parted company with Bridget Ziegler, who had been director of School Board Programs for the national group. But she has resisted calls for her resignation from the Sarasota County School Board.
The Republican Party of Florida suspended and later fired Christian Ziegler as state chairman less than a year into his tenure.
Ziegler’s criminal attorney Derek Byrd released a statement saying the investigation findings prove what the accused maintained the entire time, that he was innocent of rape.
“Since day one, we have been confident Mr. Ziegler would be exonerated from these baseless allegations. He has been completely honest, forthright, and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement at every stage of this investigation,” Byrd said.
“At the beginning of the investigation, we asked and warned the public to withhold judgment of criminal wrongdoing until a thorough investigation of the facts was complete. Sadly, many people and media outlets refused to give Mr. Ziegler that courtesy. That was unfair and unfortunate and has caused irreparable harm to Mr. Ziegler’s reputation, his personal life, professional life, and his family.”
He also predicted Ziegler would be proven innocent of any crime.
“While we are disappointed that the Sarasota Police Department ‘punted’ the decision on the remaining portion of the case to the State Attorney’s office, we strongly believe that the State Attorney will not prosecute Mr. Ziegler for any crime,” Byrd said.
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Jacob Ogles