Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.
Weiner, 53, dropped his head into his hand and wept as U.S. District Judge Denise Cote handed down her sentence. After the hearing ended and the judge left the bench, Weiner sat in his seat for several minutes, continuing to cry.
In pleading with the judge to be spared from prison, the former congressman tearfully said he was “a very sick man for a very long time.”
“I am profoundly sorry,” he said, reading from a page in front of him. “The crime I committed was my rock bottom. … I live a different and better life today.”
The sentencing completed the sordid downfall of the New York Democrat whose penchant for exchanging lewd messages and photos with young women destroyed his congressional career in 2011, doomed his 2013 run for mayor of New York, wrecked his marriage to Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and became entangled in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Weiner pleaded guilty in May to transferring obscene material to a minor, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for illicit contact with a North Carolina teenager. Prosecutors said he sent her porn and got her to take her clothes off and touch herself on Skype.
In imposing sentence, the judge cited a need in such a highly publicized case to “make a statement that can protect other minors.”
Cote noted that Weiner repeatedly got caught sexting and said that while he has made “great strides” in treatment, “the difficulty here is that this is a very strong compulsion.”
Federal prosecutor Amanda Kramer had urged Cote to give Weiner a significant prison sentence to end his “tragic cycle” of sexting.
Weiner wore his wedding ring to court. His parents were in the courtroom but not his wife. He and Abedin, who have a 5-year-old, are going through divorce proceedings.
Weiner said nothing as he left the courthouse. He must report to prison by Nov. 6.
He was also fined $10,000. After his sentence is served, he must undergo internet monitoring. He must also enrol in a sex-offender treatment program.
The FBI was investigating Weiner’s contact with the high school student when it came across emails on his laptop between Abedin and Clinton, prompting then-FBI Director James Comey to announce in late October 2016 that he was reopening the probe of Clinton’s use of a private computer server.
Two days before Election Day, the FBI announced there was nothing new in the emails. But Clinton has blamed Comey’s handling of the episode more than any other factor for her loss to Donald Trump. In a recent NBC interview, she called the FBI director’s intervention “the determining factor” in her defeat.
In court papers, Weiner’s lawyers portrayed the girl as an instigator, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election.
Weiner’s behaviour in all its lurid detail — including his online alias “Carlos Danger” and a selfie of his bulging underwear — turned him and his last name into an irresistible punchline for late-night comics and mortified his wife again and again.
In her new memoir, “What Happened,” Clinton revealed that Weiner’s wife “looked stricken” and burst into tears upon learning her husband had triggered Comey’s “October surprise.”
“This man is going to be the death of me,” Abedin was quoted as saying.
Tom Hays And Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press