OAN’s Brooke Mallory
4:46 PM – Friday, November 17, 2023
According to Tampa officials, Jimmie Gardner, the brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, was taken into custody on allegations of sex trafficking.
The 57-year-old was detained on Friday, according to Tampa police, for allegedly trying to have sex with a 16-year-old girl.
Gardner met the juvenile at 1:43 a.m. and invited her to his room at the Renaissance Hotel at the International Plaza, according to a press statement from the Tampa Police Department.
After the girl accepted his invitation, he reportedly offered her money in exchange for sex, according to authorities.
“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 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.”
Gardner had already left the hotel when police arrived, however, they still discovered the victim there.
Gardner was reportedly assigned to the Tampa Police District 1 Office, according to authorities. He was taken into custody on accusations of human trafficking for commercial sex with a victim under the age of 18, lewd or lascivious contact of a juvenile by anyone 24 years of age or older, and a misdemeanor battery charge.
The 13th Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney reported that Gardner was cleared 27 years after being found guilty in 1987 of sexually assaulting two women in West Virginia.
Leslie Abrams Gardner, a federal judge, and he were married two years after his 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.
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