‘This is going to be not good’: Christian Ziegler seemed more concerned about public perception of rape allegations, transcripts show

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Video above from previous coverage: Christian Ziegler won’t be charged with rape; voyeurism case continues, police say

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — In a November interview with detectives, former Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler appeared to be concerned about the public perception of the rape allegations against him, according to transcripts released Thursday by the Sarasota Police Department.

The Sarasota Police Department on Thursday released dozens of pages of transcripts pertaining to the investigation into Christian Ziegler.

In January, police said detectives were unable to develop probable cause to charge Christian Ziegler with sexual battery. He allegedly recorded the sexual encounter in October on his cell phone, which showed it “was likely consensual,” according to police. However, a follow-up interview with the victim revealed that she did not consent to being recorded and was unaware of the recording, police said.

A probable cause affidavit was sent to the state attorney’s office to review for possible video voyeurism charges.

Christian Ziegler probe: Body cam video shows police check on rape accuser

Bridget Ziegler, his wife, is a co-founder for conservative group “Moms for Liberty” and is a member of the Sarasota County School Board. She has faced many calls to resign since the allegations of her husband became public.

Christian Ziegler was removed from his role as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

The transcripts were generated by software before they were distributed by police. Transcripts below are written exactly as they appear in the documents. The audio recordings of the interviews were not released.

‘Everything we do is public record’

Detectives interviewed Christian Ziegler on Nov. 1 at his home.

Detective: “Okay. If you’ve got a couple of minutes, we’re just investigating a complaint and we just wanted to talk to you, if you have a couple of minutes?”
Christian Ziegler: ” A complaint against me?”
Detective: “Well, we have a report that’s come in, so we just wanted to talk to you about it.”
Christian Ziegler: “Okay. Let me put my dog away.”

Christian Ziegler sits down with the detectives.

Detective: “Okay. So I just wanted to talk to you about a report that came in, and see–“
Christian Ziegler: “Let me…yeah. Sorry.”
Detective: ” Let you what?”
Christian Ziegler: “I also want to know what’s public, what’s public information or…”
Sergeant: ” Everything we do is public record. Everything we do.”
Christian Ziegler: Okay. Alright. Go ahead.”
Detective: “Yeah. So first, do you even know anyone that lives at the [redacted]? Am I pronouncing that right? [Redacted].”
Christian Ziegler: “I do. Should I have my attorney present?”
Sergeant: “I mean, you’re in your own house.”
Detective: “You can tell us to leave anytime you want.”

The detectives informed Christian Ziegler that there was a criminal allegation being investigated.

Christian Ziegler: “So I think I kind of know what’s this is about.”
Detective: “Okay. So you have an idea of why we’re here?”
Christian Ziegler: “It’s not…but yes. So what…”
Sergeant: “We’ve only got one side of it. Okay? That’s why we’re here, to talk to you-“
Christian Ziegler: “So, when does an arrest occur? Can I ask questions without it being written down, or no?”
Sergeant: “No.”
Detective: “Yeah.”
Sergeant: “Like you said, everything we do is public record. Okay?”
Christian Ziegler: “I understand.”
Sergeant: “So what you’ve got to understand is we’ve only got one side of this, so that’s why we’re here. We’re not here to arrest you.”
Christian Ziegler: “The problem is, is with my role, everything gets played out very publicly. So that’s what I need to make sure that, am I allowed to ask questions and understand what’s going on?”
Detective: “Absolutely.”
Christian Ziegler: “Or is that going to be written down and…”
Sergeant: “You’re like any other private citizen. Okay?”
Christian Ziegler: “I understand.”
Sergeant: “No special rights, nothing like that. So if we were interviewing your neighbors about something, it’d be the same things as we’re interviewing you.”
Christian Ziegler: “Now when you go to interview…Because I don’t know. I don’t know how the process works. When you go to interview, when does it get serious? You’re obviously fact finding.”
Detective: “We’re just in the beginning stages of a report that was filed, and we’re just coming to get, like he said, another side of the story.”
Christian Ziegler: “Okay. When does this get published?” The first report-“
Sergeant: “Everything we do is public record, like I said.”
Christian Ziegler: “I understand, but-“
Sergeant: “The conclusion of investigation is that-“
Detective: “So when everything’s done.”

Christian Ziegler asked the detectives for more information about the process and what happens when the investigation is closed. He asked multiple more times about whether questions he asked the detectives would be documented.

Christian Ziegler: “When I deal with reporters, right? It’s off the record, on the record. Everything’s on the record.”
Detective: “Nothing we do is off-“
Christian Ziegler: “But even if I ask questions, is that in the report? If it has nothing to do generally, specific with the report, if I ask you questions, is that documented?”

Christian Ziegler said he’s never dealt with a criminal complaint before, so he was just trying to make sure he understood the process.

Christian Ziegler: “So when I explain something, that all goes in the public record, so then that becomes…”
Sergeant: “Part of the case.”
Christian Ziegler: “Part of the case. And that’s word for word?”
Sergeant: “Yes. Generally, I mean, we do a brief explanation of it, but if somebody wanted to pull that and go, ‘I want to hear the interviews’, absolutely.”
Christian Ziegler: “Which is going to happen in my case, right?”
Detective: “I have no idea.”
Christian Ziegler: “And I don’t want this…Can I explain something? Not about the case, but just about me, without it being written down or not?”
Detective: “Mm-hmm.”
Sergeant: “Yeah.”
Christian Ziegler: “So I’m chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, so there’ll be a high public interest in the case. I have to navigate this not just from the fact base, but from also a political, PR angle. So that’s what I’m trying to navigate, if I need to bring in an attorney. So what happens if I request that I have an attorney present?”
Detective: “We don’t talk to you anymore, until you have an attorney present.”
Christian Ziegler: “And then, how long is that process?”
Sergeant: “Depends on who your attorney is.”
Christian Ziegler: “And I’ve never dealt with this, so I’m just trying to understand. From your perspective or your experience, how is that process?”
Sergeant: “The process is…Do you have an attorney?”
Christian Ziegler: “No.”

The sergeant told Christian Ziegler he could hire an attorney, which he said he would do, before asking more questions about the process. The detectives told him they were just there to get his side of the story and that he wouldn’t be arrested that day.

‘Does that make me look more guilty?’

Christian Ziegler appeared to show more concern about the public fallout of the accusation than the accusation itself.

“I’m not necessarily worried about the complaint, I’m worried about the public side of it, and I’m worried about the complaint, even just the allegations of it,” he said.

Ziegler asked if transcripts of the interviews would be made public, to which the detective informed him they would be if someone requested the actual interviews.

Christian Ziegler: “So you’re not going to ask, ‘Hey, what’s your favorite color?’ ‘Blue’? And then you’re writing that down and then that’s public?”
Detective: “No. No, No no.”
Christian Ziegler: “Oh, it’s not-“
Detective: “No, we’re just talking. We’re just talking.”
Christian Ziegler: “So then what happens if, after our conversation, you’re like, ‘Well, there’s really no basis here’?”
Detective: “And we may not even know that today. But leaving here, we’ll know more than we did when we got here. Right?”
Christian Ziegler: “I just got to be careful about what details I give you, because that’s going to be public. Right?”
Detective: “At some point.”
Sergeant: “Yeah, at some point. Everything we do-“
Christian Ziegler: “At some point, that’s what I mean.”
Sergeant: “Everything we do is-“
Christian Ziegler: “So I’m more sensitive about the PR side, the political side, then I am about the facts. Okay?”

The detectives told Christian Ziegler he didn’t have to answer any questions he didn’t want to. He asked what would happen if they just told him the allegations and then he ended the interview.

“If you were to ask me a question, or if you were to tell me the allegation, and then I just stopped everything, what would that show? How would that show?” he said.

At one point in the interview, Christian Ziegler apologized for “being a pain in the ass.”

Christian Ziegler: “You can tell me the allegation, and I’m going to stop it there probably.”
Detective: “Okay.”
Christian Ziegler: “And I’m going to make a call.”
Detective: “It’s sexual battery.”
Christian Ziegler: “Okay. So what does that mean?”
Detective: “What do you mean, what does it mean?”
Christian Ziegler: “What does that…I mean, I’m guessing-“
Sergeant: “What is the crime?”
Christian Ziegler: “The definition.”
Sergeant: ” You don’t need to look up the definition. It’s basically, you had sex, you forced somebody to have sex against their will.”
Christian Ziegler: “Okay.”

Christian Ziegler tried to make a phone call to a person who didn’t answer, and then asked the detectives what happens if he asks to wait for an attorney.

“Does that make me look more guilty?” he said.

‘This will be a national story’

Christian Ziegler asked what the timeframe would look like and what the next steps are after getting an attorney. The detectives said he could call them back to arrange a meeting with him and the attorney present.

The detectives said that if they didn’t hear anything from Christian Ziegler, they would still continue with the case anyways without his side of the story.

Christian Ziegler: “Understood. Lead fine print. I wish we could be friends and have beers.”
Sergeant: “But it’s one of those things that, a lack of response sometimes is no response. So if we only have one side, we never talk to you. And we’re here talking now, but if we never got the questions answered that we have, then we’re going to continue about our investigation.”
Christian Ziegler: “This will be a national story. Not necessarily because of the details, but even just the report.”

The detectives handed Christian Ziegler their contact information.

“This is going to be not good,” he said.

‘That surprises me’

In an interview with police on Nov. 1, Christian Ziegler’s wife, Bridget Ziegler, said her husband being investigated for sexual assault was a surprise to her.

Detective: “Does this shock you?”
Bridget Ziegler: “A sexual assault? 100%”
Detective: “Would it shock you to know that he might be in a relationship with her, or has had a relationship with her-“
Bridget Ziegler: “I don’t know that a relationship but if there were any extramarital things, it wouldn’t blow my mind of surprise but…”

Some parts of the transcriptions are listed as “inaudible.”

Bridget Ziegler: “I mean, as far as the sexual assault of any sort, I can’t. That surprises me.”
Detective: “But, it wouldn’t surprise you if there was some sort of…”
Bridget Ziegler: “Not wild [inaudible] yeah. But, that would’ve been a while ago.”
Detective: “How long ago, you think?”
Bridget Ziegler: “A year.”
Detective: “Okay. Again, another very sensitive question. Have you ever been with [redacted] in any sexual manner?”
Bridget Ziegler: “It’s been a while ago.”
Detective: “Okay. Just the two of you, or you and your husband?”
Bridget Ziegler: “Yeah.”
Detective: “The three of you?”
Bridget Ziegler: “Mm-hmm.”
Detective: “Okay.”
Bridget Ziegler: “That was over two years ago.”
Detective: “Okay. I’m sorry to ask, but how did that come to be?”
Bridget Ziegler: “My husband [inaudible].”
Detective: “Something he set up? She set up? You? Who set-“
Bridget Ziegler: “I don’t want to give you misinformation, so I can’t totally recall. So I don’t know who or what? But not normally my thing.”
Detective: “Ok. So, you [inaudible] once, or twice, or…?”
Bridget Ziegler: “I think only once.”
Detective: “Okay. Has there been any talk of the three of you getting together again?”
Bridget Ziegler: “No.”

Bridget Ziegler then asked the detective “what happened?” to which the detective replied that it was still early in the investigation.

Bridget Ziegler: “How [inaudible] has this become? Because I really [inaudible] I have to naturally ask that.
Detective: “I understand that.”
Bridget Ziegler: “This is very serious, because I want this…don’t take that, I’m sorry-“

Bridget Ziegler continued to ask questions to the detectives, who told her the incident happened on Oct. 2.

Detective: “Yeah. So last month. Early last month.”
Bridget Ziegler: “We were in [inaudible] California. That surprises me.”
Detective: “Yeah?”
Bridget Ziegler: “Like, a lot. So…”
Detective: “Okay. Well, we have confirmed through video that he was there.”
Bridget Ziegler: “Oh. Oh.”
Detective: “We have him walking in and out of the complex where she lives and we have this vehicle there.”
Bridget Ziegler: “Okay. Well, [inaudible] I don’t think [inaudible].”
Detective: “Would he…and I don’t know your husband, so would he have offered to meet with [redacted] on the pretense that you were going to be there and not bring you?”
Bridget Ziegler: “[inaudible].”
Detective: “Okay. Because, the way we understand it is she was under the impression that the three of you were going to get together. And then when you didn’t show up, she was very upset and said, ‘This is not what…this is going to happen. This is not what I want,’ but Tom apparently had different ideas.”

The detectives finished the conversation by stating they didn’t have any other questions until Christian Ziegler was finished talking to detectives.

“I know this puts you in a very difficult place and we’re not strangers to this kind of thing,” the detective said. “I want you to know to be very careful.”

‘The last 10 times it’s just been me’

On Nov. 2, Christian Ziegler was interviewed again after he obtained an attorney.

In the interview, Christian Ziegler detailed his relationship with the woman who accused him of rape. He said the two met up every once in a while for sex, but didn’t describe it as a relationship.

Christian Ziegler said he and the woman had consensual sex about a dozen times since he’s known the woman for more than a decade.

Christian Ziegler said the encounter on Oct. 2 was initiated by the woman once he arrived at her home. He said the woman didn’t appear to be upset at the time but became upset a few weeks later when he sent her a message. He said he felt blindsided.

The detective asked Christian Ziegler whether or not Bridget Ziegler planned to join the two of them. He replied yes, but that he ended up going alone, and that the woman knew he was showing up along.

Detective: “So [redacted] was under the impression that Bridget was going to join you guys?”
Christian Ziegler: “Well, at parts of the day, but then at the end she explicitly asked me, ‘Are you coming alone?’ And I said, ‘Yes this time.”

Christian Ziegler said Bridget Ziegler was also involved maybe once or twice, but a long time ago.

Christian Ziegler: “It’s not anything that was…The last 10 times it’s just been me.”
Sergeant: “Was she upset when you showed up without Bridget?”
Christian Ziegler: “No.”
Sergeant: “She didn’t say anything about that?”
Christian Ziegler: “No. It was just, she’s very calm…She’s not…I don’t know, it was just very…It was like routine.”

The next portion of the transcripts was heavily redacted.

Detective: “Is [redacted] into your wife? Is she more into your wife than she is to you?”
Christian Ziegler: “She said that a couple times, but I mean, I’ve gone over there solo and she’s invited me solo and welcomes me solo, so I don’t know.”

The detectives went into a line of questioning about why he was messaging the woman with vanish mode on Instagram if his wife knew about the relationship. He responded that the conversations were sensitive, but he didn’t really know why he was using vanish mode. Most of that section was redacted.

Christian Ziegler said he asked the woman before the encounter if she had been drinking. The detectives asked him why he would ask that. He responded that she had issues with alcohol in the past and that it was something they always talked about.

Detective: “Were you asking that question for your safety or her, just because you care about her?”
Christian Ziegler: “Both maybe. I mean, I don’t want to put myself in a negative situation. I mean, look, I’m not trying to take advantage-“
Sergeant: “Christian, you know as well as I do if you’ve got to ask that question to somebody, maybe you shouldn’t be in that situation. You know what I mean? Maybe you shouldn’t be in that situation. You know what I mean? If you’ve got to ask somebody beforehand if they’ve been drinking or they had-“
Christian Ziegler: “Oh, but that wasn’t based on anything that I observed or experience, right. Even in the past, it’s nothing that I’ve personally experienced. I just know she has a history. But I mean, that day, it was middle of the day, totally normal. There’s not…But I just asked because I just wanted to double check, just because I know she has a history of it.”

‘I don’t want you to take this computer, please’

Detectives visited Christian Ziegler again on Dec. 1 to obtain a DNA swab and another piece of evidence.

Christian Ziegler: “I got to figure out, I haven’t done it yet, but I got to figure out how to log in on Apple Cloud where you guys could do it on your end. You know how to do it. How are you doing? But I can show you kind of on my, I don’t want you to take this computer, please. It’s not on my computer.”
Forensic Technician: “No, we’re not taking…”
Christian Ziegler: “It’s in the cloud. But I can show you kind of the path to get there real quick. But I don’t know how to log in on Apple Cloud online to access files. I’ve never done that.”
Forensic Technician: “Is it still in your Google Drive?”
Christian Ziegler: “It’s not Google Drive. It’s iCloud. You’re not buying Google Drive anymore? It’s in Google Drive too. There’s in two spots. I was worried that it would get deleted or something.”
Detective: “You want to go out here? So you have air, sit here.”
Christian Ziegler: “Or you can do it on the back of my tailgate if it’s easier. I just don’t want people come driving by there.”

The investigators walked Christian Ziegler through how to log into iCloud from online. He expressed concern about how all of his data was being handled because he said they took stuff that wasn’t pertinent to the case.

Christian Ziegler: “I was told. Well, so here’s my concern too, just to just be open and honest and I’m not slamming police or anything, but this is, imagine this being my concern is, two nights ago I was sitting in a meeting and I had a reporter text me, I can show you the text. And he said, hey, are you and your wife involved in a police issue or something like that? And I said, I just waited. And he said, have you been bickering? I’m like, no. And then he said, is there something that…I should probably just read it. But he said that he has a source inside law enforcement, local law enforcement, and they’re telling him things differently and they’re going to give him documents at 9:00 a.m. in the morning. But imaging being accused…”
Detective: “Sure.”
Christian Ziegler: “And then you’re finding out that law enforcement in the middle of an investigation is leaking stuff. I don’t know if that’s true or not.”
Detective: “You’ve got to think of it like this, and our captain pointed this out this morning. This investigation has been going on two months, almost two months. Next week could be two months. Why would all of a sudden somebody in law enforcement leak it? You know what I mean? It’s been going on this long. Because we’re no further along than what we were a couple of weeks ago because we’ve been waiting for this information right here.”
Christian Ziegler: “So then the question is, if she’s not doing it, you’re saying right? Or you suspect.”
Detective: “But there’s, there’s a lot of people involved with this. So we’ve had search warrants, we’ve sent things to State Attorney’s office, we’ve sent things to judges. Your name is a popular name. People know your name if they’re in the political realm. So they’re going to go, Hey, I saw this thing…They tell a friend. That friend tells a friend and it gets around.”
Christian Ziegler: “Understood.”
Detective: “Am I saying a hundred percent that everybody in the police department is innocent? Absolutely not. I mean, I’m quiet sure.”
Christian Ziegler: “No, they’re humans. I mean, I get it.”

‘I’m like one of those tin foil hat people’

The detective said he needed to take a photo of the evidence on the computer, as well as take a DNA swab.

Detective: “This is a waiver of search Christian. This just says that you are giving us consent to take from your person, your buccal swab, your DNA and if.”
Christian Ziegler: “How long does that stay on file? Forever?”
Detective: “It’s just used for this particular case. It’s like it’s not…”
Christian Ziegler: “And then it’s wiped? It’s not like if you’re a criminal when they take it and they have it forever, right?”
Detective: “No, this isn’t CODIS. This is just…”
Christian Ziegler: “I’m like one of those tin foil hat people.”
Detective: “No, no, not. What they do is they’ll basically, when it comes back with her kit and it says, yes, there’s some mixture of a male DNA, they’ll have yours to compare it to say, yep, that’s where this DNA came from. That’s all it’s. You’re not going into a database.”

Christian Ziegler said he was confused about what he’s being accused of.

Detective: “Well, we told you in the beginning you were being accused of sexual battery, the statute…”
Christian Ziegler: “Correct. That’s what I mean. Yeah.”
Detective: “Yeah.”
Christian Ziegler: “But someone tweeted something out. One of these guys are…these reporters that are releasing the reports and stuff. Is there a claim of violence? Is there…”
Detective: “No.”

Christian Ziegler said parts of the investigation should be sealed because it will make headlines but nobody reads the rest of it. He then appeared to express anger over aspects of the case leaking.

The detectives then took a screenshot they needed for evidence.

Christian Ziegler: “You’re good then. Right? See, I could have done that and you wouldn’t have had to download my phone for three weeks. Is there any way I can get my phone back soon?”
Detective: “Yeah, we just got to talk to the state. Make sure the state wants…Because any evidence that we have, the state has to release at this point. So we’ll just talk with them, see if they want it for anything.”
Christian Ziegler: “What do you mean the state has to release?”
Detective: “The State Attorney? Any evidence? Any case that we have a criminal case.”
Christian Ziegler: “Oh, so if you take someone’s phone, they got to tell you to give it back?”
Detective: “Yes, they do. They’ve got to authorize the release for us to give back property.”
Christian Ziegler: “Okay, that’s interesting. This is fine. Yeah, I’m know I’m the subject of it, but I’m like, I’m a glass half full kind of guy and it’s kind of interesting. I wish I could go through the steps with you guys on the other side. Not on this side.”
Detective: “We’ll be back in touch with you if we need anything.”
Christian Ziegler: “I appreciate it you guys. I’m sorry for all the questions are bogging you guys down. I’m just like yesterday destroyed me. But we’ll see what happens politically-wise, but I’m more concerned. Obviously you guys are right. The more I think about it’s like the criminal stuff gets that out of the way.”

Christian Ziegler asked the detectives how many details would be in the police report. The detectives responded that everything from all of their interviews would be released.

Christian Ziegler: “What do you mean by that? So my concern, and I talked about this earlier, is I’m taking the shots. I’m fine. My wife’s in a different unique situation and unfortunately she can’t really defend herself. She’s not involved as much as I am in this middle of this process. But she hasn’t seen her in years and they don’t communicate directly with each other. So I just want to try and insulate my wife as much as possible from any crazy accusations or whatever. Now, I may not be able to, but for me, that’s the difference between my wife having a job or not, is just, and that’s why, like I said, this really words matter and the way it’s frame is just like…”
Detective: “Well, it’s not going to be framed any other way than it is exactly. We’re not putting opinions in there whatsoever. It’s nothing about our opinion. It’s verbatim physical evidence, interviews. It’s verbatim, everything.”

Search history revealed

In early February, police released Christian Ziegler’s Google search history from after the first time detectives visited him.

After detectives visited Ziegler for the first time, he made the following Google searches on his phone, according to Sarasota police documents:

  • How prearrest criminal investigations work

  • Sexual battery settlement average

  • What is the average settlement for a premises liability sexual assault case

  • Sparcc

  • Subpoena Instagram Vanish

  • How quick police criminal investigation

  • Accused of sexual battery and dismissed

  • Only Fans

  • Remove subscriptions from list

  • Sue for false allegations

  • Cost to file civil suit

  • (Redacted)

  • (Redacted)

  • How sex crimes are investigated and prosecuted in the state of florida

  • Johnathan Todd Sarasota

  • Chief of Sarasota detectives

  • What happens when someone presses charges against you

  • (Redacted)

  • Sexual Battery

  • Consent sexual how

  • Can vanish mode messages be recovered on Instagram

  • False sexual assault accusation

  • Sarasota sex crime attorney

  • Sexual battery proof

  • Faraday bags for tablets, phones and laptops Go Dark bags

“During a search for (victim’s name) in Ziegler’s phone, a list containing the names of several other women was located. It was titled ‘THE LIST’ in the phone and name was listed under the sub-heading labeled, ‘F—‘,” a police report stated.

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