Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Anthony Weiner pleads guilty in 'sexting' inquiry; faces 21-27 months in prison

NEW YORK — 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-year-old girl that he said destroyed his "life's dream in public service."

Weiner pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting sexual material to a minor, admitting he began exchanging online messages with the girl in January 2015 and engaged in obscene communications that included "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.

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 will require that he register as a sex offender, exposes him to a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but Weiner signed a plea agreement with prosecutors in which 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.

Wearing his wedding ring and a dark blue suit with a maroon tie, 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."

Weiner said he began getting mental health treatment beginning 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, I had hit bottom," he said. "Through treatment I found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects."

Weiner apologized to "everyone I have hurt," including the girl he "mistreated so badly."

Finished speaking, he wiped his eyes with tissues.

Weiner was already in federal custody ahead of the hearing, which lasted less than a half 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.

The FBI began investigating Weiner in September after the 15-year-old North Carolina girl told the news website DailyMail.com that she and the disgraced former politician had exchanged lewd messages for several months.

She also accused him of asking her to undress on camera.

The investigation led FBI agents to seize his laptop computer, which led to the discovery of a new cache of emails that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had sent to Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife.

In late October, just days before the election, FBI Director James Comey stunned the country by announcing that his agency was reopening its closed investigation into Clinton's handling of State Department business on a private email server so it could analyze the newly discovered correspondence.

That inquiry was brief. Comey announced shortly before the election that the new emails contained nothing to change his view that Clinton could not be charged with a crime. But Clinton partly blamed her loss to Republican Donald Trump on Comey's announcement.

Weiner, who represented New York in Congress from 1999 to 2011, resigned after revelations that he was sending sexually explicit messages to multiple women.

He ran for New York City mayor in 2013 and was leading several polls until it was revealed he had continued his questionable behavior. His failed mayoral bid was the subject of the documentary "Weiner."

Anthony Weiner pleads guilty in 'sexting' inquiry; faces 21-27 months in prison 05/19/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 12:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.