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May 18, 2024  |  
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Gabrielle M. Etzel, Healthcare Reporter


NextImg:Stacey Abrams's brother-in-law charged with human trafficking


Jimmie Gardner, the brother-in-law of two-time failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, was arrested on charges of human trafficking in Tampa, Florida.

Tampa police told reporters with local news outlet WFLA that they arrested the 57-year-old Gardner on Friday for allegedly attempting to engage a 16-year-old girl in commercial sex acts at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza at about 2 a.m. that morning.

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Gardner reportedly met the minor and invited her upstairs to his hotel room, where he allegedly offered her money for sex, according to police reports.

“The victim initially agreed but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage and he became angry,” a statement from police read.

“Gardner advised the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room," it continued. "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 turned himself in directly to authorities at the precinct. He was previously convicted in 1987 of sexual assault against two women in West Virginia. After serving 27 years, he was exonerated in 2016. He married Leslie Abrams Gardner in 2018.

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Abrams Gardner has been a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia since 2014. Abrams has not made a public statement on the situation.

“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 told the local Florida outlet.