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Top Crist aide who resigned charged with assault

By Steve Contorno, CNN

The former top aide to Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist was arrested Tuesday in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident shortly before he left the campaign, according to court records.

Austin Durrer was charged with second-degree assault on Tuesday in Cambridge, Maryland. On the same day, Durrer was listed as the complainant in a criminal case against a woman, Jackie Whisman, who lists the same address as Durrer and was also charged with second-degree assault.

According to court records, Durrer, 43, was ordered to stay away from their shared residence and to surrender any firearms. He was arrested and released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Durrer’s departure comes less than three weeks from Election Day, when Crist is challenging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. A Siena College poll of likely voters last month showed DeSantis with an 8-point lead over Crist.

Crist spokeswoman Samantha Ramirez said Friday that Durrer was “dismissed as soon as the campaign learned of this situation.” On Wednesday, Ramirez told CNN that Durrer had “departed the campaign to focus on a family matter.”

In a text message, Durrer told CNN that Whisman, 39, is his partner and the two have a daughter together. A statement Durrer said was from him and Whisman indicated the couple are working to get the charges dropped. Whisman has not spoken publicly.

“Very sadly, an incident took place this week at our home that we both regret,” the statement said. “We are both working to drop legal charges and move forward. Our primary focus at this time is our daughter, our greatest joy, and we appreciate privacy and respect as we navigate this as a family.”

NBC News first reported the charges against Durrer.

Prior to joining the campaign, Durrer served as chief of staff in Crist’s congressional office. He was replaced on Wednesday by Deputy Campaign Manager Sydney Throop.

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