GOP suspends former student after uncovering violent past

Sophie Haber

Florida Republicans recently suspended former student Rupert Ditsworth, now Rupert Tarsey, after discovering that he attacked another student 40 times with a claw hammer as a senior in 2007.  The Broward County GOP seeks to oust him from his current role as secretary, pending further investigation.

Two years after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor, Tarsey moved to Florida and changed his last name to that of his mother.

Tarsey withdrew from school after the incident and the school was neither involved in nor informed of legal proceedings that followed, Head of External Relations Ed Hu said.

“I don’t even recall hearing how exactly the case was handled,” Hu said. “The last I heard was that they wanted to charge him as an adult.”

Since he is not a convicted felon, he might not have had to disclose his past on an employment form, Director of HR Marisol Ordonez said; however, the information typically would have appeared through a background check via his social security number or finger prints.

The Chronicle reached out to Broward County GOP Chairman Bob Sutton, but he did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Sutton said a colleague uncovered Tarsey’s past a few weeks ago.

“We had no idea what his background is,” Sutton said in the interview. “We want him out but he is refusing to resign. He deceived us.”

Also in an interview with the Daily Mail, Tarsey questioned why he should resign.

“I did nothing wrong and I was elected,” he said. “This is just party politics.”

According to a 2007 Chronicle article, Tarsey asked Lizzie Barcay ’07, a Peer Support leader, to go to Jamba Juice before peer support. Instead of going back to school, Tarsey turned onto Van Noord, where he began to express suicidal thoughts and attacked Barcay.

“He just snapped, in a way, and the violence, which I would not have expected inside of him, was just released completely and totally on her,” a classmate, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Dean Sharon Cuseo said that students on campus for Peer Support were immediately put on lockdown.

“We were all locked into Chalmers, which was very scary because nobody really knew what was happening,” the classmate said.

The classmate and Cuseo both recalled that before the attack, Tarsey was quiet and reserved.

“In acting class, the only time I ever heard him talk was when he actually got on stage and did the scenes,” the classmate said. “He sort of kept to himself.”