CHAPTER ONE: THE CRIME
In a stunning email to members of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC), party secretary Rupert Tarsey claims he faced attempted first degree murder charges after he beat a female classmate forty times with a claw hammer in “self-defense.” According to court records and published reports from 2007, Tarsey was charged with the attempted first degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a female classmate at the exclusive Harvard Westlake prep school near Beverly Hills, California. Despite the extensive records available, Tarsey appears eager to play the victim in his email.
In response to requests for comment, Tarsey sent the email to REDBROWARD on Monday September 4, 2017. Tarsey wrote, “When I was in high school and a minor, I met with someone in a parked car next to our school, while I was a student. We began to get into a verbal altercation. Though the altercation was verbal initially it became physical when I was kicked multiple times and hit by the other person.” Tarsey claimed he used a hammer that was left in his 2000 Jaguar to fend off his attacker. “Regrettably, while pinned against the side of the car and having difficulty breathing,” Tarsey wrote. “I used this tool in self defense to try to stop the other person from hitting me.”
In bold letters, Tarsey makes clear his claims of being the victim of of an attack. He wrote, “BUT TO BE CLEAR: EVEN THOUGH I WAS ACTING IN SELF DEFENSE I STILL REGRET WHAT HAPPENED AND FEEL THAT MY ACTIONS WERE UNCALLED FOR.”
“IT WAS A COMPLETELY UNPROVOKED ATTACK”
In his email, Rupert Tarsey leaves out important details of the May 14, 2007 attack. He never mentions his “attacker” was 17 year old Lizzie Barcay. Days after the attack, Barcay’s mother, Dr. Barbara Hayden, gave the Los Angeles Times, her account of the attack in Tarsey’s (then known as Rupert Tumin Ditsworth) automobile. Hayden said she was performing breast cancer surgery when she learned about her daughter’s attack. She went to the hospital with her husband, an emergency room surgeon. “Her hair and face were caked with blood,” Hayden said. “On the left side, her head was shaped like a football.”
Hayden sat with her daughter as police interviewed her about the incident. “It was a completely unprovoked attack,” she said. “He wasn’t a boyfriend, and he was barely an acquaintance. The fact is, he is a danger not only to her but the community.”
In June 2007, The Chronicle, the Harvard Westlake student newspaper, gave a harrowing account of the attack on Lizzie Barcay:
“After she finished her Advanced Placement Physics exam late in the afternoon of Monday, May 14, Lizzie saw a male stdent who looked forlorn, according to the account her mother, Dr. Barbara Hayden, heard her give to Los Angeles Police Department officers. He told her he was waiting for a friend and asked her to go to Jamba Juice with him. He said nothing scary, only that he was “bummed out,”presumably about the AP exam, finals or graduation, Hayden said.
Lizzie did not know the boy very well, her mother said. About a year and a half before, the boy had invited her to a movie. Hayden said that Lizzie had accepted, but he had never followed up.
“They had no relationship at all except that she said ‘hi’ to him now and then and had once or twice sat down at the table and talked to him,” Hayden said.
At Jamba Juice, the classmates talked casually. Lizzie noticed nothing strange until they re-entered the car, when the boy took a backpack out of the back of the car and placed it between his legs.
“That struck her as being a very odd maneuver, something that didn’t make sense,” Hayden said.
Lizzie registered a change in the boy’s attitude. He seemed suddenly anxious. Then, he failed to drive back to school, turning onto Van Noord instead.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“I’m looking for a place to mail something,” he said.
“There isn’t a mailbox up here,” she said.
He parked and told her that he had been considering suicide.
“Let’s go back to Harvard-Westlake and talk to counselors there,” Lizzie said. “There are people there who can help you. I’ll stay with you until you get help. Let’s deal with it. I’ll be with you.”
“No, that’s not the way it’s going to play out,” he said. Hayden is unsure of the exact wording of the boy’s next sentence. She thinks he said, “I’m thinking of killing myself, and I’m not planning on doing it alone.”
Lizzie took the boy’s words to mean that he was planning to kill himself and kill her as well. Fearing that the bag at the boy’s feet could contain a weapon, she reached for it, screaming at him and trying to take it from his hands. In the commotion, he pulled out a hammer. He beat her over the head, on the side of the head, and on the face, Hayden said. Lizzie pushed her attacker against the driver’s side door with her legs, sacrificing them to save her head, her mother said. He battered her legs and broke her tibia.
At that point, he exited the car, went to the opposite side, opened the door, grabbed her by the hair, and resumed striking her head, Lizzie told police.”
According to the reports, Tarsey beat her until the hammer broke. He started to choke Barcay. According to FoxNews.com, She was able to bite his finger which caused him to retreat in pain. “She bit it as hard as she could with everything she had, knowing that this was all that she was going to be able to do to save herself,” Hayden said.
When Barcay tried to run, her leg shattered.
In his email to BREC members, Rupert Tarsey wrote his actions on May 14, 2007 were those of a “foolish teenager.” He claims ” a lot has changed” since the incident ten years ago. But a decade later, Tarsey attacks the credibilty of the victim, Lizzie Barcay and her mother.
Tarsey claims the news accounts were inaccurate “hearsay” later refuted in court. Tarsey even mocks Lizzie Barcay for going to the school prom “several days after this incident, and I believe was in class after the weekend.” The school newspaper documented the courage of Lizzie Barcay and her family.
The Chronicle reported Barcay left the hospital on May 18, 2007. “She attended Prom the next night in a wheelchair and was crowned Prom Queen.”
Two days later, Barcay attended her Cum Laude ceremony. “May 21, the day of the Cum Laude assembly, was the first day that Lizzie ascended the stairs to her house with the help of crutches and her father’s stabilizing hold. Before that climb, she needed a stretcher to get up the stairs. That night, her parents removed the stitches from her scalp. She was still taking painkillers for the pain.”
CHARGED AS ADULT
In his email, Tarsey makes several attempts to explain away the seriousness of the charges brought against him. Tarsey claims the case was twice dismissed by judges due to “false information” and “self-defense.” Tarsey writes the case was brought before a third judge after prosecutors won an appeal.
He wrote, “At this point I was already an honor student in college, and didn’t have the time to continually fight the case over many more years. I plead no contest to the assault charge and was GIVEN A SUSPENDED SENTENCE (i.e. I was never given or served any jail time)….”
Prosecutors wanted Rupert Tarsey in jail. In June 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported Tarsey, “was taken by his parents to a psychiatric hospital for treatment immediately after the May 14 assault.”
On May 19, 2007, The Los Angeles Times reported “a juvenile court judge — over the objection of prosecutors — refused to issue a warrant authorizing the boy’s removal from a psychiatric hospital, where he has been receiving treatment. Defense attorney Patrick Smith argued at the hearing that the public would be better served if the boy remained in a secure facility where he could continue to receive treatment for his illness. Smith declined to say what specifically the boy is being treated for.”
At a later hearing, Patrick Smith told the Los Angeles Daily News that [Tarsey’s] parents decided after “speaking to the boy, without knowing what happened, that something was horribly wrong and they hospitalized him.”
Three months later, the Harvard Westlake school newspaper reported Tarsey was ordered to remain in a psychiatric hospital where he had been since the attack. “He was rearrested July 2, one day after his 18th birthday, and charged as an adult,” according to The Chronicle.
Tarsey made no mention of his hospitalization in his email.
According to Los Angeles Court records, Rupert Tumin Ditsworth petitioned the court to change his name in 2008. One year later, Rupert Tarsey settled a civil lawsuit with Lizzie Barcay and her family. Tarsey never mentions these in his email. In 2010, Tarsey enters a nolo contendre (no contest) plea on the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge. He receives six years of felony probation. It appears Tarsey relocated to Broward county during 2008. Tarsey refused to answer questions submitted by REDBROWARD.
TARSEY MAKES STATEWIDE HEADLINES
News of Tarsey’s past made Statewide headlines on September 4, 2017 when Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News (SSN) wrote, “Broward Republicans, May I Introduce Rupert Ditsworth?” Smith wrote, “Who knew the Rupert Tarsey of 2017 Fort Lauderdale is the Rupert Ditsworth of 2007 Beverley Hills, Calif.? Google Rupert Tarsey, you get nothing; Google Rupert Ditsworth, you find the local party secretary has a past that’s begun to spill on the Broward Republican Executive Committee like a can of wrong-color paint.”
Rupert Tarsey told Sunshine State News things were not as they seemed. According to SSN, Tarsey said he was “never convicted” of a felony. “‘Charged with’ and ‘convicted’ are two very different things,” Tarsey told SSN.
Tarsey said he did not change his name in 2008 to “repackage himself for a new life in the Sunshine State.” According to SSN, Tarsey claimed he changed names following his parents’ divorce. His parents are Dr. David Ditsworth, MD of Los Angeles and Patrice Tarsey of Fort Lauderdale.
Tarsey told Smith he was being unfairly targeted over party politics. Tarsey claimed he was “targeted for ‘voting with the majority of the Board in favor of removal of the chairman (Sutton) in the Board vote. Prior to the Board vote, I had been informed by Tom Lauder, a close supporter of Mr. Sutton, that if I helped to oust Mr. Sutton, I would have negative articles spread about me.'”
Despite his claims of acting in self-defense, Tarsey told SSN he settled a civil lawsuit with the victim “To make it go away.”
According to SSN, it appears as if “Tarsey was in a mental hospital for up to three years, then beginning May 4, 2010, was allowed to do his ‘community supervision’ in Florida.”
TARSEY MAKES INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES
Rupert Tarsey made international headlines on September 5th, when the London Daily Mail picked up the story. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Tarsey said he would not resign as BREC secretary.
“‘Why should I resign?’ he said in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com from his $2 million beachfront condo. ‘I did nothing wrong and I was elected. This is just party politics.'”
Once again, Tarsey claimed he did not change his name to hide his past. “‘I’m estranged from my dad,’ he said, adding he didn’t change his name in order to hide his real identity.”
In the same interview, Rupert Tarsey attempted to downplay the seriousness of the attempted murder charge made against him. “‘In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,’ said Tarsey. ‘It’s not the charges that matter, it’s what happens in court.'”
The story was later picked up by other news organizations such as The Miami Herald, VICE News, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Salon, The Shark Tank and more.
NEXT, CHAPTER TWO: THE COUP