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Disgraced Florida GOP ex-Chair Christian Ziegler won’t face prosecution

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Ziegler had been accused by a woman of raping her in a Sarasota apartment and filming the encounter without her consent.


Florida prosecutors won’t charge disgraced Republican Party of Florida ex-Chair Christian Ziegler with video voyeurism.

Ziegler, a social conservative warrior before a sex scandal landed him in national headlines, had been accused by a woman of raping her in a Sarasota apartment and filming the encounter without her consent.

After Ziegler provided video to authorities, police declined to pursue rape charges and said sex between him and the accuser was “likely consensual.” But police recommended a charge of video voyeurism for filming the sex without the woman’s knowledge.

However, prosecutors say the woman’s account of the interaction proved problematic when considering whether to pursue the matter in court.

“The Victim’s expressed inability to recall whether she consented to recording the sexual activity along with her inconsistencies pertaining to key details of the event leave the State unable to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the video in question was filmed without her knowledge or consent,” reads a memo from prosecutors, first reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Derek Byrd, Ziegler’s criminal attorney, released a statement on his client.

“Mr. Ziegler is relieved to be completely cleared of the false allegations and any criminal wrongdoing. We cooperated at every stage of investigation and as difficult as it was, we remained quiet out of respect for the investigation. On day one, we said that Mr. Ziegler was completely innocent. We asked everyone not to rush to judgment, and reminded everyone to presume Mr. Ziegler innocent - as the Constitution instructs. Unfortunately, many did not award that courtesy to Mr. Ziegler, damaging his family, career, and reputation throughout this process.”

Prosecutors in a memo stressed the woman had no “financial, political, or malicious personal motivation” to make up charges. But they said based on evidence available, they could not bring a case forward.

Regardless, revelations about the relationship have been politically devastating for both Ziegler and his wife, Moms For Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler. Once close allies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his many anti-LGBTQ+ crusades, the couple in interviews with authorities admitted to at least one prior three-way sexual encounter with the accuser. The woman also said she had been in a sexual relationship with Christian Ziegler that dated back for years.

Throughout the investigation, the woman told police both Christian and Bridget Ziegler had planned a threesome with her the day of the sexual encounter at the center of the case. But when Christian told the woman Bridget could not attend, she canceled and told Christian not to come over. He showed up at her apartment 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.

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.

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