TAMPA, Fla. – Jimmie Gardener, 57, had arrested Friday morning after a 16-year-old boy reported that he attacked her for refusing to have sex, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Around 1:43 a.m., TPD says Gardener 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, but later told Gardner she no longer wanted to commit, and he became angry.
According to officials, Gardner told the victim to leave the hotel room and the two got into a verbal argument that turned into a physical altercation after Gardner put his hands around the victim’s neck, preventing him 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.
According to police, Gardner was arrested on charges including human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors and assault.
Courtesy: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
The state attorney’s office says Gardner, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, was wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting two women in 1987 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, officials said. He is the brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Jimmie Gardener lives in Georgia and works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and the formerly incarcerated.
“Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Our attorneys will prosecute this case as we would any other criminal who is alleged to have committed these crimes. We take these charges very seriously,” said State’s Attorney Suzy Lopez in a statement.
Jimmie Gardener is in jail Hillsborough County no bond, according to police. He is scheduled to face a judge in Tampa court on Saturday.