Stacey Abrams’ brother-in-law arrested for human trafficking of 16-year-old girl in Florida

"The two got involved in a verbal altercation that escalated to a physical dispute..."


Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' (D) brother-in-law Jimmie Gardner, 57, was arrested Friday on charges of human trafficking in Tampa, Florida, after allegedly attempting to pay a 16-year-old girl for sex. 

Gardner invited a young girl up to his room at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza and offered her money for sex when they got there, according to the Tampa Police. She initially agreed, but later changed her mind, which made Gardner angry.  

After Gardner advised the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room "The two got involved in a verbal altercation that escalated to a physical dispute after Gardner placed his hands around the victim’s neck, impeding her breathing," authorities said. "After the dispute, Gardner left the hotel room, and the victim called 911."

According to a press release by the State Attorney's office of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Gardner was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984 and was later wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two women in West Virginia in 1987. He was exonerated of those charges in 2016 after serving 27 years in prison. 

In 2018, Jimmie Gardner married Abrams' sister, Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner. He currently works as a motivational speaker for students and those who were previously incarcerated. 

In the release, State Attorney Suzy Lopez stated that "Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence." She added, "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." 

Gardner is currently being held without bond on one felony count of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity with a victim under 18, one felony count of lewd or lascivious touching of a minor 16 or 17 years of age by a person 24 years or older, and one misdemeanor count of battery. 

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