TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A motivational speaker with ties to major Georgia political figures made his first appearance in court Saturday after his arrest in Tampa on a human trafficking charge.
Friday, Tampa police announced that Jimmie Gardner, 57, was arrested after he allegedly invited a minor to his hotel room to have sex in exchange for money.
Officers allege that when the 16-year-old victim refused, Gardner attacked her before she was able to escape and call 911.
Saturday morning, Gardner appeared before a judge for his first appearance, where he was given a total bond of $500,000.
Also in attendance was Gardner’s wife, whom State Attorney Suzy Lopez identified as Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner. Abrams Gardner is the sister of Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, who once served as a Georgia state representative and an ex-gubernatorial candidate.
Gardner was previously exonerated for the 1987 sexual assault of two women, according to officials who said it was a wrongful conviction.
Tampa police said he is now charged with human trafficking for commercial sexual
activity (victim less than 18), lewd or lascivious touching of minor 16 or 17 year of age by person 24 years of age or older, and a misdemeanor count of battery.