Jimmie Gardner, the brother-in-law of failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has been arrested. The charges include engaging in sexual acts with a minor and physical assault, which authorities allege are related to human trafficking.
Gardner, a 57-year-old youth motivational speaker, was apprehended by the Tampa Police Department on Friday.
Jimmie Gardner, the brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, was arrested on allegations of human trafficking, according to Tampa authorities.
Tampa police said they arrested the 57-year-old Friday for allegedly attempting to engage in sexual acts with a 16-year-old girl
A release from the Tampa Police Department stated Gardner met the minor at 1:43 a.m. and invited her to his room at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza.
The girl accepted his invitation, and when she got there, he allegedly offered her money for sex, police said.
“The victim initially agreed but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage and he became angry,” the release said. “Gardner advised the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room.
The report concluded
When officers arrived, Gardner had already left the hotel, but they found the victim at the scene, according to police.
Gardner’s arrest occurred after his victim told the authorities what happened. “His victim says Gardner paid her money and later became angry and choked her when she refused to leave,” according to prosecutors.
Gardner’s background adds another layer of complexity to this case. In 1987, he was wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two women in West Virginia. He spent 27 years in prison before being exonerated in 2016. He later married Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, Stacey Abrams’ sister, in 2018. Since being exonerated, he worked as a motivational speaker and trainer, focusing on emotional intelligence for people who have been incarcerated. Gardner received a $3 million settlement from the state and $175,000 from the Charleston Police Department in March 2019.
The State Attorney’s Office, headed by Suzy Lopez, emphasized the seriousness with which she is handling Gardner’s case.
State Attorney Lopez said:
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.
This development is a high-profile example showing the ongoing challenge of addressing human trafficking and the exploitation of minors. It has been a persistent issue that continues to demand the attention of law enforcement and the justice system.
Gardner is currently being held without bond in Hillsborough County Jail, awaiting future judicial proceedings. So far, Stacey Abrams has not made a public comment on the arrest of her brother-in-law.
A press release emphasized law enforcement’s dedication to transparency, even in high-profile cases. It read:
The State Attorney’s Office is committed to keeping the public informed about the outcomes of major court cases to ensure transparency and accountability. We believe it is of utmost importance for the public to understand how our justice system operates in order to build trust.
As this is a story that continues to develop, RedState will bring you updates as they become available.