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State Attorney won’t prosecute Ziegler for video voyeurism

Christian Ziegler (Sarasota County Commission)

State prosecutors announced today that former Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler will not be criminally charged for videotaping an alleged sexual battery of a woman in her Sarasota apartment.

In a three-page memo released today on the decision, the Sarasota State Attorney’s Office identified inconsistencies in the victim’s statements regarding both the video and the alleged assault as the rationale for not following a recommendation by the Sarasota Police Department to charge Ziegler with the felony crime of video voyeurism.  

“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,” prosecutors wrote. “Accordingly, no charges will be filed.”

Prosecutors also cited “substantial intoxication and trauma that the victim was experiencing” as a factor in their decision, while also finding she had no “financial, political, or malicious personal motivation to report this incident and initiate a police investigation into the Defendant.”

The decision puts an end to a case that began after the woman alleged Ziegler had raped her on Oct. 2 after he initially asked her if both he and his wife, Sarasota School Board Member and Moms for Liberty cofounder Bridget Ziegler, could have a threesome with her. When the victim learned Bridget Ziegler would not be joining in the threesome, the woman canceled the tryst in a text, telling him she was “mostly in” for his wife.

Christian Ziegler “appeared at the Victim’s residence anyway, engaged in sexual activity with her, then left her residence,” prosecutors wrote in the memo. 

When police began investigating, Christian Ziegler told detectives he had recorded a video of the sexual encounter that showed the sex was consensual. The victim said she had no knowledge of being recorded, prompting the video voyeurism investigation. 

“Mr. Ziegler was completely innocent and we asked everyone not to rush to judgment, and instead to presume Mr. Ziegler innocent – as the Constitution instructs,” wrote Ziegler’s attorney, Derek Byrd, in a statement today. ”Unfortunately, many did not award that courtesy to Mr. Ziegler, damaging his family, career, and reputation throughout this process.” 

While Christian Ziegler was forced out of his position as GOP chairman after calls from leading Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Bridget Ziegler remains in her school board seat despite widespread calls for her resignation, including a resolution passed by her four colleagues on the board asking that she step down.

About the Author: Michael Barfield focuses on the enforcement of open government laws. He serves as an investigative reporter and FLCGA’s Director of Public Access. He regularly assists journalists across the country with collecting information and publishing news reports obtained from public records and other sources.