Sarasota Police obtained a sex video recorded by Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler. Sources close to a rape investigation say the evidence contradicts some parts of an accuser’s claims.
Sarasota Police, after obtaining a search warrant, secured video from Ziegler’s Google Drive. The Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA), which broke the news Ziegler was under criminal investigation for rape, now cites law enforcement sources who say the video shows a different series of events than initially described by the accuser.
According to The Florida Trident, the media arm for the FLCGA, law enforcement sources have a more complete picture of events on Oct. 2. A cell phone video taken by Ziegler shows him having sex with the woman in her apartment, the sources said.
At one point, the woman verbally communicates with Ziegler about the sex act in detail. According to the reporting, the sources said “the sex act is brief in duration and the victim can be heard telling Ziegler to climax in her mouth rather than on her new shirt.”
Relevant to a rape charge, police now have surveillance video that shows Ziegler knocking on the door to get into her apartment and being allowed in. Later, video shows the two left the apartment about the same time, with the woman crossing the street to get food around the same time Ziegler’s truck is seen leaving the complex.
Florida Politics has not independently confirmed the report.
The new video evidence conflicts with details previously included in an affidavit and search warrant made public last week. According to those documents, the woman told police Ziegler arrived at her door and entered when she opened it to walk her dog.
Of course, other communication already made public still could generate problems for Ziegler. It also remains unclear whether Ziegler had permission to film the encounter.
While the woman said she arranged to have sex that day with Christian Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, texts sent to Christian Ziegler shortly before the meeting show she tried to call the tryst off.
The messages obtained by police show Christian Ziegler the day of the meeting informed the woman only he would be coming to the apartment. She responded at 2:24 p.m., “Sorry I was mostly in for her.” Christian Ziegler showed up at the apartment anyway. Security footage shows his truck arriving at her complex at 2:29 p.m., about five minutes after her text.
The woman told police two days after the event she had been raped by Christian Ziegler, something she first told her sister, who called police. Records show she told investigators she had been drinking tequila all day when Christian Ziegler came to her apartment and she “was not in a place to consent.”
The location where the accuser told police the sex occurred, at a bar stool in her apartment, lines up with the description of the video given to the Trident.
On Oct. 27, police recorded a conversation between the woman and Christian Ziegler where she said she was “not okay with what happened the other day between us” and “that was not cool and you didn’t bring her and then did that to me.”
Christian Ziegler admitted to police he was involved in the sexual encounter, and Bridget Ziegler separately admitted to being involved in a prior tryst with her husband and the woman. But Christian Ziegler maintained the sex on Oct. 2 was consensual.
The sex scandal has generated significant turmoil with Florida Politics, with Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott among the elected officials calling for Christian Ziegler to resign as Chair of the Republican Party of Florida. To date, Ziegler has rebuffed all such calls.
The executive committee for the state party plans to meet in Orlando later this month to start a disciplinary process that could result in his expulsion. Many party members tell Florida Politics the Zieglers’ admission of prior three-way trysts is reason enough to remove him as Chair.
Two members of the Sarasota County School Board have also called for Bridget Ziegler to resign her elected position. She has also parted ways with the Leadership Institute, where she was national director of School Board Programs for the conservative think tank.