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Christian Ziegler Won’t Be Charged With Video Voyeurism

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ex-Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler won’t face video voyeurism charges in connection to his female threesome partner’s rape accusations, prosecutors say.

In a memo on Wednesday, the Sarasota state attorney’s office said it declined to pursue a case against Ziegler—husband to Moms for Liberty co-founder and school board member Bridget Ziegler—because of “insufficient evidence.”

Sarasota police began investigating Ziegler in early October after a woman claimed he sexually assaulted her at her apartment. The accuser told cops she was a ménage à trois partner of the Zieglers and that on the day of the alleged assault, she had canceled a rendezvous with the Republican organizer because Bridget couldn’t make it. He showed up to her home anyway, she said.

The woman told police that “she couldn’t give consent because she had been drinking tequila all day.” When she was later examined at a hospital, she told detectives “that Ziegler assaulted her in her house, but no one will believe her because of who he is.”

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The woman “seemed very fearful of Ziegler by the way she was talking,” one detective who visited her home noted in a report. During the course of the investigation, Ziegler provided investigators with a recording of the sexual encounter he had filmed on his cellphone.

Both of the Zieglers admitted to prior sexual activity with the accuser, police records revealed, but Christian denied raping her. In January, Sarasota police cleared Ziegler of rape and referred a video voyeurism charge to the state attorney, since it is illegal in the state to film a sexual encounter without the other party’s consent.

Prosecutors, in their memo, said there was no way to determine if the recording was shot without consent. Moreover, the memo said: “There is no evidence that there was any sort of 3rd party secretly viewing the sexual encounter, nor is there any evidence that the sexual encounter was secretly broadcast to someone else.”

Derek Byrd, Ziegler’s lawyer, told The Daily Beast his client “is relieved to finally 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,” Byrd continued. “On day one, we said that Mr. Ziegler was completely innocent and we asked everyone not to rush to judgement, and instead 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.”

Since the probe made national news, Christian Ziegler was ousted as chair of the state Republican party and Bridget lost her job at the conservative Leadership Institute. Before Ziegler’s removal, one GOP official told The Daily Beast, “It’s a career-ender politically, in my opinion. He’s always going to be the threesome guy.”

According to the state attorney memo, the victim told police she had no memory of Ziegler recording the video and “did not consent to being videotaped.”

But in a sworn interview with the state attorney, the victim “acknowledged it was possible she could have consented to one being taken.” The woman told investigators she and Ziegler discussed recording a sexual encounter at least one other time but she declined.

For his part, Ziegler told police he had spoken with the victim about making a video of a sexual encounter for his wife to view. Ziegler, the memo says, claimed the victim asked him via an Instagram message in vanish mode whether he’d shown his wife the footage. Authorities were unable to recover any such messages.

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Assistant state attorneys also pointed out inconsistencies in the victim’s statements, which they said “appear to be the result of substantial intoxication and trauma.”

“The investigation uncovered no apparent evidence that the Victim in this case had any financial, political, or malicious personal motivation to report this incident and initiate a police investigation into the Defendant,” they added in the memo.

Her inability to recall whether she consented to the footage, as well as inconsistencies in key details, “leave the State unable to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the video in question was filmed without her knowledge or consent,” they concluded.

Meanwhile, Bridget’s interview with police also shed light on the MAGA power couple’s relationship with the victim. “Bridget said the sexual assault allegation surprises her, but not the extra marital activity,” a police report stated. “Bridget confirmed that she had participated in a threesome with [the victim] and her husband once two years ago which would have been arranged by Christian.”

The victim told detectives that she’d communicated with Bridget over the years and that she seemed to support Christian’s extramarital activities. The Florida Trident reported that after the woman broke her leg, Bridget sent her a text: “You want me to send CZ over to make you feel better?”

For months, critics have called out Bridget for spouting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and helping to pass Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law while also engaging in bisexual activities herself.

Angry residents continue to show up to school board meetings and hold protests demanding Ziegler step down in wake of the scandal. While the Sarasota County School Board passed a resolution asking Bridget Ziegler to resign, the board’s right-leaning majority declined to seek Gov. Ron DeSantis’ help in removing her from the post.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, speakers lashed out at the board and Ziegler. “Your policies have done harm,” one resident fumed. “My God. What if one of your children was trans or gay? What if?” She added that students “deserve better.”

“Mrs. Ziegler, since you’re more concerned with power than the wellbeing of our kids, for all that’s good in the world,” she pleaded, “just go away. Please.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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