Florida Republican chairman won’t resign over rape charge, says he’s innocent

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA (AP) - Chair of FloridaThe Republican says he will not resign over a woman's allegations that he raped her, insisting he is innocent, in an email to supporters. He did not elaborate on the allegation that has shaken the conservative politics of the state.

Christian Ziegler sent a statement to state Republicans on Saturday, saying he and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, are being targeted because they are "such a loud political voice." His wife co-founded the conservative group Moms for Liberty, which has led a campaign with Governor Ron DeSantis to roll back sex education in Florida schools.

DeSantis said last week While Christian Ziegler is innocent until proven guilty, he should resign to avoid distracting his party. Ziggler says he will not quit.

"We have a country to save and I will not let that mission be put on the back burner by false accusations of a crime as I wait for this process to be completed," Ziegler, 40, wrote. The state party's top post in February.

No charges have been filed against Ziegler, but the Sarasota police investigation continues. The accuser, who has known Christian Ziegler for 20 years, told police in October that he forced his way into her apartment and raped her. According to the search warrant affidavit Recorded by the police.

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In his Saturday email, Ziegler did not tell detectives that he had sex with the woman, but that it was consensual. He also did not address his wife, telling detectives that the couple and the woman had had group sex once more than a year earlier.

“My family is very strong. My wife is behind me 150% and we have ways to protect our (three) children, just like we have in the face of all previous attacks,” Christian Ziegler wrote. The Zieglers did not return calls and text messages Sunday seeking further comment.

DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern did not return calls and text messages Sunday seeking comment on Ziegler's refusal to resign.

After police said the Zieglers had group sex with a woman, Democrats and gay rights leaders accused the couple of hypocrisy, noting that Bridget Ziegler had founded an organization - mother for freedom - Joins DeSantis and the Florida GOP in pushing back against LBGTQ+ causes.

Bridget Ziegler is also an elected member of the Sarasota County School Board and was appointed by DeSantis The board that now oversees land development of Walt Disney World. DeSantis passed legislation last year dissolving the Disney-controlled board after the company opposed his bill limiting sex education in schools.

The rape allegation against Christian Ziegler became public last week Florida Center for Government Accountability, An investigative news organization obtained a police report and search warrant affidavit detailing the allegations.

The name of the accuser has been redacted from the documents. The Associated Press does not name potential victims of sexual assault without their permission.

According to text messages cited in the affidavit, the woman and the Zieglers had planned to have group sex again on October 2, but the woman backed out after Bridget Ziegler "couldn't do it."

The woman says that later that day she found Christian Ziegler in the hallway of her apartment, he pushed her inside and then raped her.

In text and phone conversations monitored by investigators, Ziegler offered "financial help" before the woman became suspicious that they were being recorded.

In an interview with detectives on November 2, Ziegler said that the sex was consensual and that he had recorded it. He said he deleted the video and then retrieved it after the rape allegations surfaced.

Detectives seized Christian Ziegler's phone on Nov. 2, the affidavit says. Nothing of what they have found has been made public.

Associated Press reporter Brandon Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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