The brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was arrested Friday morning and faces human trafficking charges.
Authorities arrested Jimmie Gardener, 57, after he reportedly attacked a 16-year-old for refusing to have sex, per the Tampa Police Department.
“Around 1:43 a.m., TPD says Gardener invited the victim to his room at Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza, and she accepted the invitation,” FOX 13 Tampa Bay reports.
“The victim told police she initially agreed to take money in exchange for sex acts but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage, and he became angry,” the outlet added.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) November 17, 2023
From FOX 13 Tampa Bay:
According to officials, Gardner told the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room and the two got into a verbal argument that escalated to a physical dispute after Gardner put his hands around the victim’s neck, stopping her from being able to breathe.
TPD says after the dispute, Gardner left the hotel room and the victim called 911. According to officers, Gardner left the scene before they arrived, but found the victim.
Gardner was arrested on charges including human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors, and battery, according to police.
Gardner is married to Stacey Abrams’ sister, Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, an Obama appointee.
Stacey Abrams’ sister that this guy is married to? Leslie Abrams Gardner, who is a federal judge that was appointed by Barack Obama and was on Joe Biden’s shortlist of nominees for the Supreme Court. https://t.co/XcldvTk09w
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 17, 2023
BREAKING: Stacey Abrams’ brother-in-law Jimmie Gardner has been arrested on human trafficking allegations.
According to Tampa police, Gardner was engaging in s*xual acts with a 16 year old girl and even assaulted her.
Gardner reportedly met with the minor at a hotel and invited… pic.twitter.com/3LhrV258vq
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) November 17, 2023
Meanwhile, police said Gardner reported to the Tampa Police District 1 Office. He was arrested on charges of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity (victim less than 18), lewd or lascivious touching of minor 16 or 17 years of age by person 24 years of age or older, and a misdemeanor count of battery.
According to the Office of the State Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Gardner was previously convicted in 1987 for the sexual assault of two women in West Virginia, but he was exonerated in 2016, 27 years later. Two years after his release, he married federal judge Leslie Abrams Gardner.
“Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Our attorneys will prosecute this case as we would any other offender who is alleged to have committed these crimes. We take these charges very seriously,” State Attorney Suzy Lopez said.
Officials said Gardner, who was once drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, now “works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and people who were formerly incarcerated” in Georgia.