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A Republican party leader in Florida has been accused of rape. His wifeone of the founding members of the right-wing group for parents who are on a mission to eradicate gender studies, sexual orientation studies and non-whitewashed Black studies from the classroom, Moms for Liberty—is claiming the sex was consensual, and that she would know because she was there. 

According to Politico, Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler has yet to be charged with a crime, but a search warrant has been filed with the Sarasota County court and an investigation is underway. The search warrant affidavit states that the alleged victim, who hasn’t been identified publicly, told Ziegler over Instagram messages that she was distraught and “terrified” of him after their encounter, which has left her unable to work. Meanwhile, his wife, Bridget Ziegler, told police on Nov. 1 that she, her husband and the victim engaged in consensual sex together over a year before the alleged rape was reported.

From Politico:

On the day of the alleged assault, the woman had initially agreed to meet because she thought Bridget Ziegler would be joining them. She canceled when she learned Bridget Ziegler wouldn’t be there, saying she had only agreed to the encounter because she wanted her there.

Video surveillance footage, reviewed by police, showed that Ziegler went to her residence anyway. As she was exiting her apartment to walk her dog, the woman alleged that Ziegler entered her home and had sex with her without a condom. She told police she couldn’t consent because she had been drinking alcohol, as it was her day off work. Ziegler told her after the alleged assault that he would be “leaving the same way I came in.”

The woman called a relative to tell her she was raped and the relative confirmed to police that she was “very emotional and distraught.”

The search warrant affidavit revealed the victim received a rape kit from Sarasota Memorial Hospital after telling police on Oct. 4 that she had been raped two days earlier.

In late October, the woman began texting Ziegler over Instagram, telling him she “wasn’t OK” with what he’d done to her.

“You didn’t bring her and then you did that to me,” she wrote.

She also asked him during a recorded phone call being cracked by police why he forced her to have sex, to which he replied, “Those are big words, please don’t, no I didn’t. You invited me in, that’s it. I did not at all, and I never want you to feel that way.” Ziegler also asked her how he could help her financially or otherwise, to which she responded by demanding that he acknowledge “that he has been using her all these years.” At that point, Ziegler asked her flat out if she was recording him in an attempt to set him up, to which she responded by telling him to leave her home.

More from Politico:

Police had first gone to the alleged victim’s home on Oct. 4 after a friend of hers called 911 and said she was worried about her, per a call posted by the Florida Center for Government Accountability. She said the woman hadn’t gone to work, that she told her she was afraid to leave her house after being raped.

As for Ziegler’s wife, Moms for Liberty said “Bridget was an original founder of Moms for Liberty but she stepped back from the organization’s board in 2021.” At any rate, this isn’t the first time the so-called activist group, which notably was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center earlier this year, has been connected to a sex abuse scandal. In November, it was revealed that Phillip Fisher Jr., “a pastor and Republican ward leader who coordinates faith-based outreach for Philadelphia’s Moms for Liberty chapter,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is a registered sex offender who, in 2012, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy.

Still, Ziegler—who Gov. Ron DeSantis called on to resign after the allegations came to light—maintains that the allegations against him are false. His attorney, Derek Byrd, said on Saturday that they intend to let the investigation play out. Byrd said previously that he expects Ziegler to be “completely exonerated.”

Regardless of how this case turns out, one thing is clear: The Zieglers do a lot of judgmental moralizing on people of different sexualities, and any curriculum that educates people about them for a married couple that admits to having sex that would certainly fall outside of the heteronormative.

Both Zieglers are active in Florida Republican politics. Ziegler is a former Sarasota County Commissioner while his wife, besides her role with Moms for Liberty, won a position to Sarasota’s school board after DeSantis endorsed her. She also serves on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District that governs Walt Disney World, which DeSantis overhauled after the California-based entertainment giant publicly objected to a state law that restricted how gender and sexual orientation can be taught in schools.

Of course, if the allegations against Ziegler are true, he and his wife being hypocrites is the least of his problems.


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