TAMPA, FL – Jimmie Gardner, the brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has been apprehended in Florida on allegations of human trafficking, battery, and inappropriate touching of a minor, as reported by the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit.
Gardner, a youth motivational speaker, is currently detained in Hillsborough County without bond, awaiting his first court appearance in Tampa. The charges against him are severe and include human trafficking.
The incident allegedly took place in the early hours of Friday at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza. According to Tampa Police, Gardner, 57, is accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 16-year-old girl and then assaulting her.
Gardner supposedly encountered the minor at 1:43 a.m. and invited her to his hotel room. He then allegedly proposed to pay her for sex. The victim initially consented but later withdrew her consent, leading to Gardner’s anger. A verbal altercation ensued, which escalated into a physical dispute when Gardner allegedly choked the victim, obstructing her breathing.
Following the altercation, Gardner left the hotel room, prompting the victim to call 911. When the police arrived, they found the victim at the scene, but Gardner had already departed. He later turned himself in at the Tampa Police District 1 Office, where he was charged.
Gardner has a prior conviction for sexually assaulting two women in West Virginia in 1987, for which he served 25 years in prison before being exonerated.
Gardner is married to U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014 and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Abrams and Judge Gardner have not yet commented on the situation.