Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl, capping the spectacular fall of the former congressman whose self-destructive behavior wrecked his career and marriage and played a role in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
A tearful Weiner told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that “the crime I committed is my rock bottom.” He was ordered to surrender to prison on November 6.
“I was a very sick man for a long period of time, but I am also responsible for the damage I have done,” he said. “I have no excuse.”
Weiner pleaded guilty in May to one count of transmitting obscene material to a high-school girl in North Carolina. An FBI investigation into Weiner’s sexually explicit messages turned up emails that had been sent to his wife, Huma Abedin, then a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That prompted the FBI to reopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
“This is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment,” Cote said as she handed down the sentence. “She was a minor. She was a victim. She is entitled to the law’s full protection.”
Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said, “Anthony Weiner, a former Congressman and candidate for mayor, asked a girl who he knew to be 15 years old to display her naked body and engage in sexually explicit behavior for him online. Justice demands that this type of conduct be prosecuted and punished with time in prison.”
Weiner, who faced as long as 10 years, had asked Cote to sentence him to probation. His lawyers said in court papers that the crime was a result of “an uncontrolled sickness” and the “profit-seeking curiosity” of the high-school girl, who contacted him in hopes of generating material for a book she is currently shopping to publishers. He said he hoped to avoid prison to continue with treatment and to help raise his five-year-old son.
Prosecutors asked for a prison term of 21 months to 27 months, which they had agreed to as part of a plea deal with Weiner. Weiner must register as a sex offender and will forfeit his iPhone.
As part of the government’s investigation of Weiner’s messages to the girl, FBI agents seized his laptop computer, which had Clinton’s emails to Abedin. On Oct. 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the agents were reviewing the emails to determine whether they were relevant to the separate investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server, throwing the election campaign into turmoil.
Two days before the election, Comey told Congress Clinton wouldn’t face any charges relating to the emails. In her book on the election, Clinton blames Comey, in part, for her loss to Donald Trump.
The former Secretary of State also detailed in “What Happened” Abedin’s reaction on hearing the news.
“When we heard this, Huma looked stricken,” Clinton wrote. “Anthony had already caused so much heartache. And now this.”
“‘This man is going to be the death of me,’ she said, bursting into tears.”
Abedin, who is divorcing Weiner, wrote one of about 45 letters submitted to the sentencing judge, from politicians, family and other sex addicts, in support of his bid for leniency.
Weiner, 53, began his political career as an aide to then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat who is now a senator from New York. Weiner won a seat on the New York City Council in 1991 at 27, and was elected to Schumer’s former House seat in 1998.
Weiner was re-elected six times but was forced to resign in 2011 after admitting to “inappropriate conversations” with six women during three years, including on Facebook, email, Twitter and on the phone.
In 2005, he made an unsuccessful run for mayor of New York and tried again in 2013. That bid was ruined when news broke that Weiner, using the alias “Carlos Danger,” had sent explicit pictures to an Indiana woman.