Former US Congressman Anthony Weiner leaves Federal Court in New York on May 19, 2017 after pleading guilty to one count of sending obscene messages to a minor, ending an investigation into a “sexting” scandal that played a role in last year’s US presidential election. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY
Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former US Congressman, estranged husband of one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides and former candidate for New York mayor pleaded guilty on Friday to sexting a school girl.
The 52-year-old Weiner, wearing a dark suit and tie, broke down repeatedly — sobbing, sniffing and wiping his brow — while reading out a statement attesting to his guilt in a Manhattan federal court.
Weiner, once a rising talent in the Democratic Party, admitted to sending explicit photographs and messages to a 15-year-old high school girl last year as his wife worked on Clinton’s presidential campaign.
He surrendered to the FBI on Friday morning and was released on bail after agreeing to turn in his passport, limit his travel to New York and continue mental health treatment.
“I am guilty your honor,” he said. Speaking through tears, his voice cracking and his words at times inaudible, he apologized to all those he had hurt and for the “great devastation to family and friends.”
“I knew it was morally wrong and unlawful,” Weiner told the court, stopping to wipe his brow, sniff and sip water from a bottle.
“I have a sickness but I do not have an excuse,” he said. “I apologize to everyone I have hurt.”
He pled guilty to one count of transferring obscenity to a minor. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison but those who enter a plea deal typically receive much lighter sentences.
US government prosecutors are seeking a jail term of 21-27 months for Weiner, who as part of his plea bargain will have to register as a sex offender.
District Judge Loretta Preska said Weiner would have to meet a probation officer for a pre-sentencing report. As part of the plea deal he also has to surrender an iPhone.
Weiner, who put up a $150,000 bond, is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8.
“Weiner’s conduct was not only reprehensible, but a federal crime, one for which he is now convicted and will be sentenced,” said acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim.
He used online messaging and video chat applications to communicate knowingly with a teenager, sending her obscene material and directions to engage in sexual conduct and sexually explicit images.
Wife Huma Abedin announced their separation last August after The New York Post published sexually suggestive photographs that he shared with a woman while his four-year-son apparently slept nearby.
Weiner was forced to resign his seat in Congress in 2011 after a similar scandal in which he admitted to exchanging sexually explicit pictures and messages with at least six women.
Last fall he was caught up in Clinton’s email scandal when hundreds of thousands of emails were apparently found on his laptop.
As a result the FBI effectively re-opened its probe just weeks before the presidential election, a fact that Clinton has said played a key role in her shock defeat to Donald Trump.