Stacey Abrams’ brother-in-law facing human trafficking trafficking charges after violent meet-up with teen for sex
Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ brother-in-law was arrested for allegedly trying to pay a 16-year-old girl for sex at a Florida hotel before choking the teen, according to police.
Jimmie Gardner, 57, whose wife is a federal judge, is facing human trafficking charges over the alleged violent and disturbing encounter in a room at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza in Tampa around 1:40 a.m. Friday, cops said.
The teen accepted Gardner’s invitation to go back to his hotel room and initially agreed to have sex with him in exchange for money, police said.
But the girl later changed her mind, infuriating Gardner, who ordered her to leave before the two got into an argument, according to cops.
The fight escalated and Gardner allegedly grabbed the minor by the neck, cutting off her breathing, police said. Afterwards, Gardner left the hotel room and the girl called 911.
While police met with the victim at the hotel, Gardner turned himself in at a police precinct.
He was charged with one felony count of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity with a victim less than 18 years old, one felony count of lewd or lascivious touching of a minor 16 or 17 years old by a person age 24 years or older and one misdemeanor count of battery.
Gardner was previously convicted in 1987 for the sexual assault of two women in West Virginia — but he was exonerated 27 years later in 2016, the office of the State Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit told WFLA.
In 2018, he married federal judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, sister to two-time failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate and Democratic activist Stacey Abrams.
“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 told WFLA.
Gardner was once drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, but now “works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and people who were formerly incarcerated,” officials told the outlet.
On his Instagram page, Gardner describes himself as a “27-year wrongful conviction survivor; social justice advocate; motivational speaker; mentor to at-risk youth;” and a “freedom fighter.”
He is being held at the Orient Road Jail, according to police.