Florida Republican Party Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Florida Republican Party Freedom Summit, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla.
(CNN) -- Florida Republican Party Chairman Christian Ziegler said Saturday he will not resign as he faces a sexual assault investigation, rejecting calls from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to step down from his role as the party's top official.
In a letter to the Florida Republican Party, Ziegler did not address the allegation — which continued to cause a statewide stir Saturday as troubling new details emerged about the investigation — but suggested there was a conspiracy underway to leak details of the Sarasota Police Department's investigation.
"We have a country to save and I will not allow false accusations of a crime to put that mission in the dock while I wait for this process to conclude," he wrote.
According to a search warrant affidavit, which CNN obtained from the Florida Center for Government Accountability, Ziegler and his wife Bridget planned a three-way sexual encounter with the alleged victim on the day of the alleged assault, October 2, and "when the victim learned that Bridget would not be able to attend, he changed his mind and called off with Christian."
Surveillance video showed Ziegler arriving at the alleged victim's residence on the day of the alleged assault, the affidavit says. The alleged victim told investigators that he "opened his apartment door to walk his dog and Christian was standing outside in the hallway." The alleged victim claimed Christian entered the apartment and raped her on a bar stool, according to the affidavit.
"The victim warned Christian that he was not using a condom," according to the affidavit. He further detailed that he told Christian that he was "not in a position to give consent" because "he had been drinking tequila all day."
The alleged victim later called her sister and told her she had been raped, the affidavit states, noting that police interviewed the alleged victim's sister and confirmed the details of the phone call.
Police then interviewed Bridget Ziegler, according to the affidavit. She told detectives she met the alleged victim through her husband and confirmed having a sexual encounter with her and her husband "over a year ago and it only happened once."
On Nov. 2, detectives interviewed Ziegler with his attorney present, the affidavit states. Ziegler admitted to having sex with the alleged victim, but said the sex was consensual and that he recorded the encounter. "Christian said he initially deleted the video, but since the prosecution, he uploaded the video to his Google Drive which we have not been able to locate following a digital extraction."
During the investigation, police said Ziegler attempted to contact the alleged victim through Instagram. She then began communicating with Ziegler with the help of detectives, according to the affidavit. In an alleged exchange on Oct. 27, the alleged victim wrote, "I don't agree with what happened the other day between us."
"Oh. That's not good. You're my friend. I've known you for about twenty years," Ziegler replied.
"yes, I know, but that wasn't right and you didn't bring her [Bridget] and then you did that to me," the alleged victim responded.
"She was inside. Then he couldn't because he didn't respond. He said next time," Ziegler responded.
According to the affidavit, several phone calls between the alleged victim and Ziegler were audiotaped. In one call, the alleged victim reportedly told Ziegler that "he sexually assaulted her" and Ziegler reportedly responded, "Those are big words, please no, no, I didn't. You invited me in, that's all. I didn't do it at all, and I don't want you to ever feel that way."
CNN has made multiple attempts to contact the Zieglers. In a statement Friday, Christian Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, said, "We are confident that once the police investigation concludes no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be fully exonerated."
"Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts they did not commit, whether for political purposes or for financial gain. I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded," Byrd said.
The allegations have not only raised questions about Christian Ziegler's ability to lead the party in the 2024 election season, but have also drawn harsh criticism for the role the Zieglers have played in helping to execute a crackdown on LGBTQ materials in Florida schools under the DeSantis administration.
Bridget Ziegler, 41, a three-time elected Sarasota County school board member, co-founded Moms for Liberty, a conservative parental rights organization that has led efforts in Florida and elsewhere to remove books they deem inappropriate for children from classrooms.
She has also been a close ally of DeSantis in his campaign to remove sexual orientation and gender identity from schools. She helped draft the Parents' Bill of Rights in Florida, a law DeSantis signed in 2021 in response to conservative parents' concerns that schools were withholding information about children expressing a change in sexual orientation and gender identity.
This year, DeSantis appointed Bridget Ziegler to the board that now oversees the Walt Disney Company's special taxing district in Central Florida amid its standoff with the entertainment giant over a state law that restricted how sexual orientation and gender identity could be taught in the classroom.
Christian Ziegler, 40, has also fiercely defended DeSantis' agenda against the national backlash from LGBTQ groups. In an interview with the Washington Examiner, he said Democrats who opposed DeSantis were "perverts" and encouraged them to leave the state.
In his letter to the state Republican Party, Ziegler suggested that information made public about the investigation was intentionally leaked because he and his wife are "very vocal political voices." He added that the complaint and the investigation should have remained confidential until the conclusion of the investigation, and that he could not publicly share his side of the story at this point in the proceedings.
The letter came a day after DeSantis said Ziegler should resign as party chairman, telling reporters, "I don't see how we can continue that ongoing investigation, given the gravity of those situations."
"I think he should step aside," DeSantis said. "I think he should take care of that."
"I know him. I know Bridget. They've been friends, but the mission is more important," he added.
Ziegler, however, laid out a timetable for remaining in power. He told the party that his "role in the investigation is complete" and anticipated a conclusion of the investigation.
"When we get to that point, I'll have a lot more to share about the facts, how it happened, the motive and who was behind it," he said.