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Former Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler and his spouse Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota College Board Member and cofounder of the conservative group Mothers for Liberty, have filed a lawsuit in search of to bar the discharge of data concerned within the husband’s legal rape investigation.

The as soon as highly effective Republican energy couple sued the Metropolis of Sarasota and State Legal professional’s Workplace particularly to forestall the discharge to the media textual content messages they despatched to one another recovered by police in the course of the now-closed investigation.

The Zieglers hooked up affidavits to the lawsuit claiming telephone and textual content data and different content material on social media accounts seized after the issuance of a number of search warrants have been supposed to be non-public and confidential.

The lawsuit, filed March 15, alleges the Zieglers “are involved that different people and media shops will almost definitely make, or have already made” requests for public data possessed by the 2 companies.

The Zieglers search to forestall the discharge of textual content messages between Christian and Bridget. The lawsuit additionally asks the court docket to order the “everlasting destruction of all topic textual content messages” obtained by police within the investigation.

The investigation started with a grievance from a lady who alleged Christian Ziegler raped her at her residence this previous October. The couple had engaged in consensual threesomes with the girl twice earlier than.

Some textual content messages between Christian and Bridget have already been launched by the police division, amongst them an alternate from 2021 by which they mentioned the alleged sufferer. In these texts, Christian associated that he discovered the girl “scorching,” however he suspected she was solely drawn to Bridget, and cautioned his spouse that she is an “alcoholic, good individual with some points.”

“I simply don’t wish to really feel like we ever reap the benefits of anybody (I do know it’s all the time been consensual) however she appears … ‘damaged,’” Bridget texted her husband again. “… And my nature is extra doubtless to assist her versus … ya know.”

Christian responded that it was time for them to “hunt for somebody new.” The content material of the remaining textual content messages within the possession of police is unknown.

It was this previous Oct. 2 that Christian Ziegler started texting the alleged sufferer about having one other threesome, however the girl canceled when she discovered Bridget wasn’t in a position to make it. Christian arrived at her residence anyway, the place the girl claimed he raped her whereas she was too intoxicated to consent. Christian admitted having intercourse with the girl, however mentioned it was consensual and produced a video he’d taken of the temporary sexual encounter to again up that assertion.

After the Florida Trident broke information of the investigation on Nov. 30, 2023, the scandal rapidly engulfed the Republican energy couple. Bridget on the time was a detailed ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis and a darling of Florida’s conservative motion. She championed anti-LGBTQ insurance policies, together with the controversial “Don’t Say Homosexual” laws, guide bans, and right-wing tradition wars.

The couple’s fall from energy was swift. Christian Ziegler was eliminated as chair of the Republican Occasion of Florida in January 2024. The Management Institute quietly eliminated Bridget Ziegler as Vice President of College Board Packages in December 2023. Regardless of widespread requires her resignation from the college board, she stays in her elected seat.

Christian Ziegler was not charged with any legal offense after the Sarasota Police Division and the State Legal professional lately concluded no legal prices can be filed for video voyeurism because of Christian Ziegler videotaping the sexual encounter allegedly with out the girl’s data.

Each police and the State Legal professional cited inconsistencies within the sufferer’s reminiscence of occasions primarily based on “substantial intoxication and trauma that the sufferer was experiencing” as an element of their resolution, whereas additionally discovering she had no “monetary, political, or malicious private motivation to report this incident and provoke a police investigation into [Christian Ziegler].”

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In regards to the Writer: Michael Barfield focuses on the enforcement of open authorities legal guidelines. He serves as an investigative reporter and FLCGA’s Director of Public Entry. He repeatedly assists journalists throughout the nation with amassing data and publishing information stories obtained from public data and different sources.

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