A 28-year-old Broward County Republican is refusing to resign his position as party secretary after colleagues discovered over the weekend that he had once been prosecuted for brutally beating a high school girl with a claw hammer.
Rupert Ditsworth, who now goes by the name Rupert Tarsey, was charged with attempted murder for his 2007 attack on a fellow student at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. After checking into a psychiatric hospital following the attack, he escaped the most serious charges through a plea deal. He then ditched his native California for Florida and swapped Ditsworth for Tarsey — apparently in honor of his grandfather Jason Tarsey, who owned the former Dunes Hotel on the Vegas strip.
Republicans say they had no idea their new colleague had a fake name and a criminal background
“We were blindsided,” GOP chairman Bob Sutton told Gossip Extra, an independent Florida news service cross-published by the Miami Herald. “He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, for Christ’s sake. And he came highly recommended by the former chair. We had no idea what his background is. We want him out but he is refusing to resign.”
Ditsworth, using the name Tarsey, volunteered on various Republican campaigns, including Trump’s.
The details of the beating as alleged by authorities at the time are gruesome. According to the Daily Mail, citing news reports about the original attack, Ditsworth drove Elizabeth Barcay to a Jamba Juice near school one day after exams. The two shared smoothies and returned to the car. But instead of driving her back to campus, Ditsworth turned down a residential street, parked, pulled out a claw hammer and struck Barcay with it at least 40 times before dragging her out of the car by her hair, her mother recounted to the Los Angeles Times. Once outside, cops said, he continued beating her until the hammer broke.
The attack left Barcay with a fractured skull, broken leg, broken nose, and split scalp. She attended prom in a wheelchair.
“Her hair and face were caked with blood,” the girl’s mother, Barbara Hayden told the LA Times. “On the left side her head was shaped like a football.”
According to Gossip Extra, the 6-foot-2 Ditsworth claimed the attack was in self-defense. “In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,” he told the Daily Mail this week from his million-dollar beachfront condo.
Ditsworth, who is now married with two children, apparently used a reputation management firm to launder his identity, Sutton said.
A local party member discovered Ditsworth’s secret over Labor Day weekend and informed Sutton soon after. Sutton suspended him from his secretary duties earlier this week, but Ditsworth seems to be digging in, dismissing the revelations as political payback for going after Sutton.
“Why should I resign?” he told the Daily Mail.. “I did nothing wrong and I was elected. This is just party politics.”