According to a report from the Sarasota Police Department, Ziegler is under investigation for the alleged incident.
The complaint does not explicitly name Ziegler, but his attorney, Derek Byrd, confirmed that the high-ranking Republican official is cooperating with the investigation and expects to be fully exonerated.
The alleged victim was reportedly in a long-term consensual relationship with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget. The Florida Center for Government Accountability, an investigative journalism site, first reported on the story, stating that the incident occurred when Ziegler and the complainant were alone at her home on October 2nd, with Bridget Ziegler absent.
While the police report is heavily redacted, the words "rape" and "had been sexually battered...on 10/02/2023" are visible. Ziegler's cellphone was seized by the police after obtaining a search warrant, as it was reportedly used to film sexual encounters between the trio.
Both Ziegler and his wife are influential figures in Florida politics, emphasizing their commitment to "family values" during their political campaigns. Ziegler, a long-term GOP official and former Sarasota County Commissioner, was elected chair of the state party in February. Bridget Ziegler, a former school board official, co-founded the "parent's rights" group Moms For Liberty in 2021. The organization initially focused on opposing Covid lockdown measures but has since expanded its platform to combat "gender ideology" and "critical race theory" in schools.
Moms for Liberty played a prominent role in advocating for Florida's "don't say gay bill" and was labeled an "anti-government extremist" organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bridget Ziegler received personal endorsement from Governor Ron DeSantis for her Sarasota school board seat and was appointed to the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
The Independent reached out to Bridget Ziegler for comment, but she did not respond. Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried called on Christian Ziegler to resign immediately in light of the severity of the allegations. Fried criticized the Zieglers for their hypocrisy, as they have consistently attacked issues such as reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights while championing "family values."
Fried commended the bravery of the accuser for coming forward against a powerful political figure like Christian Ziegler. She emphasized the seriousness of the allegations and called for them to be taken seriously. Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, expressed confidence that no charges would be filed against his client and cautioned against rushing to judgment before the investigation is concluded.