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Bridget Ziegler: Florida School Board Pushes Member to Resign Amid Sexual Assault Scandal

A Florida school board is demanding the resignation of one of its members, whose husband, the Republican Party state chairman, is being investigated for sexual assault.

The Sarasota County School Board voted 4-1 for a resolution requesting that Bridget Ziegler step down.

Her husband, Christian Ziegler, is facing accusations of rape.

No charges have been filed against him, and through his lawyer Mr Ziegler has denied the allegations.

The vote on Tuesday to remove Ms Zeigler was brought by Chair Karen Rose, who said in an email that she was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the accusations and believed media scrutiny of the couple “would cause irreparably harmful distractions”.

Ms Ziegler, co-founder of the conservative Moms for Liberty group, was the sole vote against the resolution. She also did not indicate that she would resign from the board, where she has served for nearly a decade.

In Florida, the governor is the only person who can fire school board members.

The alleged assault occurred on 2 October at a home in Sarasota, in south-west Florida, according to a heavily redacted document from police that included several mentions of rape and sexual battery.

An investigation is ongoing.

The influential Republican couple had been involved in a years-long sexual relationship with the woman who filed the police complaint, according to the Florida Trident, which first reported on the accusations.

Citing “sources close to the investigation,” the news site, which is run by the non-profit Florida Center for Government Accountability, also reported the alleged attack occurred at the woman’s home, when she and Mr Ziegler were alone.

Mr Ziegler’s lawyer, Derek Byrd, told the BBC that “we are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr Ziegler will be completely exonerated”.

Mr Ziegler is resisting pressure from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other conservatives to resign from his post as chairman of the state’s Republican party, which he has held since February.

“We have a country to save and I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put that mission on the bench,” he said.

Along with the accusations of violence, the revelation that Ms Ziegler had a relationship with a woman is deeply troubling to some in the state. Ms Ziegler has backed Mr DeSantis’ controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Democrat critics say the allegations are at odds with the emphasis the couple placed politically on “family values”.

“The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried in a statement.

Source: BBC News