TAMPA, Fla. — The brother-in-law of two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and the husband of Georgia federal judge Leslie Abrams Gardner are facing human trafficking charges.
Jimmie Gardner, 57, was arrested in Tampa, Florida, on Friday after a 16-year-old girl said she was involved in sexual acts with him in a hotel room.
Tampa police said the teen told them Gardner contacted her just before 1:45 a.m. and invited her to his hotel room and she accepted.
Once there, Gardner allegedly offered the girl money in exchange for sex. She initially agreed, but when she changed her mind, she said he became angry and started choking her.
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After he pulled over and left the hotel room, she called 911.
By the time police arrived, Gardner was missing. He was arrested a few hours later, according to jail records.
He is accused of human trafficking, lewd or lascivious touching of a minor and assault and battery.
In 1990, Gardner was wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting an elderly woman in West Virginia. After more than 26 years in prison, his conviction was overturned and he was released from prison in 2016.
After his release, he married Judge Abrams Gardner, who serves as a federal judge in the Middle District of Georgia, in 2018 and began working as a motivational speaker.
Before his conviction, Gardner was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and spent four seasons in the minor leagues.
“Everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence. Our attorneys will pursue this case as we would any other offender alleged to have committed these crimes. We take these charges very seriously,” said Florida State Attorney Suzy Lopez.
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