Weiner pleads guilty in sexting case
Former congressman must register as a sex offender and could face up to 10 years in prison for communications with 15-year-old girl
Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose penchant for sexting strangers ended his political career and sparked a probe that upended the presidential race, pleaded guilty Friday to a sex charge, tearfully apologizing for communications with a 15-yearold girl that he said destroyed his “life’s dream in public service.”
Mr. Weiner, who could go to prison, pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting obscene material to a minor. He admitted exchanging online messages with the girl beginning in January, 2015, and “sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct.”
“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” he said.
In court, the 52-year-old former Democratic congressman paused repeatedly as he fought back tears and tried to compose himself. He said he knew the texting was “as morally wrong as it was unlawful.”
Pleading to the charge, which requires him to register as a sex offender, could bring a sentence of up to 10 years. But Mr. Weiner is likely to serve much less time if he is sentenced to prison.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, he agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months in prison. His lawyer can request leniency at a sentencing scheduled for Sept. 8.
In a written plea agreement, prosecutors said aggravating factors such as the age of the victim would have called for a prison sentence of up to 14 years under sentencing guidelines were it not for the plea bargain and a 10-year maximum penalty on the charge.
Wearing his wedding ring and a dark blue suit with a maroon tie, Mr. Weiner read from a prepared statement after U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska addressed him: “Tell me what you did, sir.”
He said he “compulsively sought attention from women who contacted me on social media” beginning with his service in Congress and continuing through the first half of last year.
“I engaged with many of them in both sexual and nonsexual conversation,” he said. “These destructive impulses brought great devastation to my family and friends and destroyed my life’s dream in public service. Yet I remained in denial even as the world around me fell apart.”
Mr. Weiner said he began getting mental-health treatment in the fall, when he said he “came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness.” He said he continues to follow the treatment daily.
“I had hit bottom,” he said. “Through treatment I found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects.”
Mr. Weiner apologized to “everyone I have hurt,” including the girl he “mistreated so badly.”
Finished speaking, he wiped his eyes with tissues.
Mr. Weiner was already in federal custody ahead of the hearing, which lasted less than half an hour. Afterward, he shook hands with prosecutors, telling them: “Thanks, guys. I appreciate your service.”
He then went down the courthouse elevator surrounded by his lawyers and court officers and left the building. He said nothing to reporters. His wife, Huma Abedin, was not in court.
Ms. Abedin, a top aide to Dem- ocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last year, separated from Mr. Weiner in September after revelations he had sent more sexually charged messages online.
That same month, the FBI began investigating Mr. Weiner after the North Carolina girl told the news website DailyMail.com that she and Mr. Weiner had exchanged lewd messages for several months.
Former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner exits federal court on Friday in New York.