The Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit reports that the brother-in-law of the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams, a former candidate, was taken into custody in Florida on suspicion of human trafficking, violence, and indecent or lascivious touching of a minor.
“Jimmie Gardner, a youth motivational speaker and brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is facing serious charges of human trafficking and is currently in jail in Hillsborough County with no bond. Gardner is scheduled to face a judge in first [court appearance] in Tampa tomorrow,” the office said in a Friday press release.
Jimmie Gardner, 57, is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza early on Friday morning before physically attacking her during a fight, according to Tampa Police.
The child was allegedly approached by Gardner at 1:43 a.m., who urged her to stay in his hotel room, which she did, and then made a payment to have sex with her.
“The victim initially agreed but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage and he became angry,” police said. “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.”
“After the dispute, Gardner left the hotel room, and the victim called 911.”
When police got on the site, they said they discovered the victim, but Gardner had already departed the hotel. Upon his surrender to the Tampa Police District 1 Office, he was subsequently accused of “human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors, and battery.”
Gardner was subsequently found not guilty after serving 25 years in jail for the 1987 sexual assault of two women in West Virginia, according to the Office of the State Attorney.
Gardner is the spouse of Abrams’ sister, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2014 and subsequently confirmed by the Senate with a unanimous vote.