Stacey Abrams' brother-in-law arrested for attacking 16-year-old, human trafficking in Tampa: Officials

Jimmie Gardner, 57, was arrested on Friday morning after a 16-year-old reported that he attacked her for refusing to have sex, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Around 1:43 a.m., TPD says Gardner invited the victim to his room at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza, and she accepted the invitation.

The victim told police she initially agreed to take money in exchange for sex acts but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage, and he became angry.

According to officials, Gardner told the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room and the two got into a verbal argument that escalated to a physical dispute after Gardner put his hands around the victim's neck, stopping her from being able to breathe. 

TPD says after the dispute, Gardner left the hotel room and the victim called 911. According to officers, Gardner left the scene before they arrived, but found the victim.

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Gardner was arrested on charges including human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors, and battery, according to police.

Jimmie Gardner mugshot courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Jimmie Gardner mugshot courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

The State Attorney's Office says that Gardner, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, was wrongly convicted in the 1987 sexual assault of two women in West Virginia. Authorities say 27 years after his wrongful conviction, he was exonerated in 2016 and released from prison.

Two years after his release, he married Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, according to officials. He is the brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

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Jimmie Gardner lives in Georgia and works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and people who were formerly incarcerated.

"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," said State Attorney Suzy Lopez in a statement.

Jimmie Gardner is in jail in Hillsborough County with no bond, according to police. He is scheduled to face a judge in his first court appearance in Tampa on Saturday.