On Friday, Tampa police reported the arrest of 57-year-old Jimmie Gardner on charges of attempting to solicit a minor for sexual activity in exchange for money.
Federal Judge’s Husband In Trouble
According to Tampa police, the 16-year-old teenage girl said Gardner contacted her before 1:45 a.m., inviting her to his hotel room, which she initially accepted.
Once there, Gardner purportedly offered her money for sex. Although she initially agreed, she changed her mind, prompting Gardner to become angry and physically assault her.
After Gardner left the hotel room, the victim called 911. Police arrived to find Gardner gone, but he was apprehended a few hours later, according to jail records.
During his initial court appearance on Saturday morning, Gardner, whose bond was set at $500,000, was accompanied by his wife, identified by State Attorney Suzy Lopez as Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner.
Abrams Gardner is the sister of Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, a former state representative and gubernatorial candidate.
Gardner, was previously exonerated for the 1987 sexual assault of two women in what officials deemed a wrongful conviction. After spending over 26 years in prison, his conviction was overturned, and he was released in 2016.
Following his release, Gardner married Judge Abrams Gardner in 2018 and began a motivational speaker career. Before his conviction, he had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs and spent four seasons in the minor leagues.
Now, he faces charges of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity involving a victim under 18, lewd or lascivious touching of a minor aged 16 or 17 by a person 24 years or older, and a misdemeanor count of battery.
The brother-in-law of two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and husband to Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner is now confronting serious charges of human trafficking.
Florida State Attorney Suzy Lopez emphasized the presumption of innocence for everyone. He stated, “We take these charges very seriously, and our attorneys will prosecute this case as we would any other offender alleged to have committed these crimes.”