TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Former Florida Republican Party Chairman Christian Ziegler will not face sexual battery charges, but prosecutors will consider whether to charge him with video surveillance stemming from a months-long investigation. This was reported by the Sarasota Police Department.
The investigation began after Ziegler had sex with an unnamed woman on Oct. 2, after which Ziegler filed a police complaint, saying “raped” his. After interviewing dozens of people and reviewing surveillance footage, the Sarasota Police Department, where Ziegler lives, determined it was “unable to develop probable cause” to charge him with sexual battery.
Sarasota police said police sent prosecutors a probable cause affidavit for video surveillance, a felony, because Ziegler allegedly filmed the sex without the woman’s knowledge.
“After further interviewing the victim and showing the victim the video of the sexual act, the victim informed Sarasota police detectives that he was unaware and did not consent to the video being taken,” the statement said. Friday by the Sarasota Police Department.
Ziegler’s attorney, Derek Boyd, said “from day one, we were confident that Mr. Ziegler would be acquitted,” adding that police were “punting” part of the case to prosecutors alleging illegal videotaping of the crime.
“While we are disappointed that the Sarasota Police Department has ‘dumped’ the decision on the remainder of the state’s attorney’s case, we strongly believe that the state’s attorney will not prosecute Mr. Ziegler for any crime,” Byrd said. statement.
The investigation, first reported by the Center for Government Accountability, sent shock waves through Florida Republican politics, with party officials removing Ziegler as chairman and appointing former vice chairman Evan Power as the new state GOP chairman.
Almost every prominent Florida Republican, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, called for her resignation after news of the investigation broke, but Ziegler refused. Finally, the state Republican Party was forced to hold a series emergency meetings to reduce his powers and then formally oust him as chairman earlier this month.
The investigation was also a setback for Ziegler’s wife, Bridget, who is well-known in conservative circles as the co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a group that works to elect conservative women to school boards.
According to search warrants obtained by NBC News, the Zieglers had previously had sex with the woman who accused Christian Ziegler of raping her. In addition to the legal investigation, the allegations sparked a backlash against Bridget Ziegler, who accused her focus on conservative policy issues, including the passage of anti-LGBTQ legislation, as hypocritical. He helped author legislation sponsored by DeSantis that would ban discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms through third grade.
She faced no allegations of wrongdoing, but Bridget Ziegler resigned as vice president of school boards at the Leadership Institute, a national group that trains conservative activists, and faced numerous calls for her resignation from the Sarasota County School Board.