Stacey Abrams’ brother-in-law faces human trafficking charges involving minor

He was previously exonerated after 27 year prison sentence on rape charges
Gardner was previously exonerated after serving over 25 years in West Virginia on sexual assault charges.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 4:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2023 at 12:42 PM EST
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TAMPA, Fl. (WALB) - The brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is also a youth motivational speaker, is facing human trafficking charges and is being held in the Hillsborough County Jail with no bond.

Jimmie Gardner is scheduled to face a judge in his first appearance in court in Tampa on Saturday.

Gardner was arrested on Friday morning by Tampa police after his 16-year-old victim called police to report him for committing sex acts on her at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza, according to a release.

She said that Gardner paid her money and later became angry and choked her when she refused to have sex.

His booking charges include human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors and battery, according to the release.

“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 said.

In 1984, Gardner was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and was wrongfully convicted in the 1987 sexual assault of two women in West Virginia. He was exonerated in 2016 and released from prison 27 years after his wrongful conviction, according to the release.

Two years later, Gardner married Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner. He currently lives in Georgia and works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and formerly incarcerated people.

“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,” the release said.