TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Police arrested 57-year-old Jimmie Gardner of Georgia on Friday following a report from a juvenile that she had been engaged in sexual acts with Gardner.
At approximately 1:43 a.m., Gardner ‘made contact’ with the 16-year-old female victim and invited her back to his hotel room, which she accepted.
Upon arrival at the hotel room, Gardner offered the victim money in exchange for sexual acts. The victim initially agreed but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage, and he became angry, police say.
Gardner told 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.
Upon arrival, officers were unable to make contact with Gardner at the hotel as he had already left, but contact was made with the victim on the scene.
While officers were at the hotel, Gardner went to the Tampa Police District 1 Office, where he was later taken into custody and charged with:
- One (1) Felony Count of Human Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Activity (Victim Less Than 18)
- One (1) Felony Count of Lewd or Lascivious Touching of Minor 16 or 17 Year of Age By Person 24 Years of Age or Older
- One (1) Misdemeanor Count of Battery.
The victim was connected to the Tampa Police Victim Advocate, as well as other community resources.
Gardner is currently at Orient Road Jail.
Gardner, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, was falsely convicted in 1987 of sexually assaulting two women in West Virginia, according to the State Attorney’s Office. Authorities claim that he was cleared in 2016 and released from prison, 27 years after his false conviction.
Officials say he married Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner two years after being freed. He is the brother-in-law of Stacey Abrams, a previous candidate for governor of Georgia.
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