WASHINGTON – Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty in federal court Friday morning in New York to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor for sexting a 15-year-old girl.
Prosecutors are recommending that he serve 21-27 months in a federal prison.
As part of a plea deal, he must register as a sex offender.
He also will have to surrender his passport, forfeit his iPhone, and continue therapy. He is barred from contacting the girl.
He was released on bail and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 8.
The disgraced former member of Congress cried while making a statement to the court admitting he knew the North Carolina girl he was contacting last year was 15. He said he also had exchanged sexually explicit texts with adult women during the same period.
“I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed,” he told the court.
Weiner, 52, had turned himself into the FBI early Friday morning after finalizing the details of his plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Weiner’s contact with the girl began in January 2016 after the teen reached out to him on Twitter, and continued through the late spring, according to prosecutors. The exchanges occurred while his now-estranged wife, Huma Abedin, was on the campaign trail with her boss, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Weiner was staying home in Manhattan to take care of the couple’s son, who is now 5.
Weiner’s guilty plea culminates a six-year downward spiral for the once-respected lawmaker that began in May 27, 2011 – the day a lewd photo of him appeared on his Twitter page. He initially said his Twitter account had been hacked. But 10 days later he admitted that he had sent the photo.
After more revealing photos of him emerged, Weiner resigned his seat in Congress on June 16, 2011.
In May 2013, he announced he was running for mayor of New York. But in July of that year a gossip website published sexually explicit online chats he had with a woman the previous summer. He came in fifth place in the race.
Abedin announced last August that the couple was separating – a day after the New York Post published a story revealing Weiner had sent a woman a photo that showed him lying in bed while wearing briefs, and he appeared aroused. His young son was sleeping beside him.
That same month, the New York Daily News said the newspaper would stop running his columns, and NY 1 said he would no longer appear on the local cable news channel.
Last September after the Daily Mail disclosed his contact with the underage girl, authorities seized a laptop belonging to Weiner and Abedin.
Weiner’s name returned to the headlines the following month, when then-FBI Director James Comey notified Congress that some emails on that laptop might be linked to his investigation into Clinton’s emails, so he was reopening the probe. But on Nov. 5, 2016, Comey told Congress that the FBI had found nothing new. Three days later, Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump.
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WEINER’S FULL STATEMENT TO THE COURT
“Beginning with my service in Congress and continuing into the first half of last year, I have compulsively sought attention from women who contacted me on social media, and I engaged with many of them in both sexual and non-sexual conversations. These destructive impulses brought great devastation to family and friends, and destroyed my life’s dream of public service. And yet I remained in denial even as the world around me fell apart.
“In late January 2016, I was contacted by and began exchanging online messages with a stranger who said that she was a high school student and who I understood to be 15 years old. Through approximately March 2016, I engaged in obscene communications with this teenager, including sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct, just as I had done and continued to do with adult women. I knew this was as morally wrong as it was unlawful.
This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom. I entered intensive treatment, found the strength to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.
“I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.”
This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.
Top photo of Anthony Weiner is a screen shot from YouTube
Regina Holmes has more than two decades of experience as a journalist –editing and reporting for news dailies including the Miami Herald, Newsday and the Baltimore Examiner. She also launched an award-winning investigative news website that tackled police and political corruption in Baltimore. She has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and Baltimore County Public Schools. Regina became a journalist because even as a child she was fascinated by the power of the press: how it could force a president out of office, elect a president, expose corruption, and shine a light on discrimination. She is passionate about giving a voice to people who are disenfranchised, ignored or powerless, including people of color, senior citizens, the impoverished, people with disabilities, veterans, and children. Issues in which she is particularly interested include race relations, criminal justice, and police brutality. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. In her spare time, Regina enjoys traveling,antiquing, window-shopping for carsand watching HGTV.