Former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York has been sentenced to 21 months of imprisonment for exchanging sexually lurid online messages with a minor. Weiner, who became a notorious national figure for his repeated sexting scandals, indirectly played a pivotal role in the final months of the 2016 presidential race when his crime was uncovered.
On Sept. 25, Judge Denise Cote sentenced Weiner to 21 months in prison for sharing sexual messages with a 15-year-old high schooler. Weiner will have to surrender himself to authorities on Nov. 6 and pay a $10,000 fine, New York Daily News reports.
"This was a serious crime, and it's a serious crime that deserves serious punishment," Cote said. "There's a uniform opinion by those who have examined [Weiner] that he is an addict. He has a disease that [includes] sexual compulsivity."
U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, a prosecutor in the case, praised Cote's decision to place Weiner behind bars.
"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," Kim said. "Justice demands that this type of conduct be prosecuted and punished with time in prison. Today, Anthony Weiner received a just sentence that was appropriate for his crime."
Weiner reportedly wept in court while his sentence was read aloud. The former congressman and his lawyers had unsuccessfully sought a probation sentence.
In May 2011, Weiner ignited scandal when he accidentally shared a lurid photo of himself on social media. The congressman, who at the time was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, initially claimed that his account had been hacked but later admitted that he had engaged in sexting conversations with women. He resigned from Congress in June 2011, according to Business Insider.
In July 2013, Weiner was mounting a mayoral campaign in New York City when his explicit online conversations with a 22-year-old woman surfaced, swiftly derailing his political comeback. In August 2016, even more sexually explicit messages between Weiner and several women surfaced, including his sexually explicit messages with the 15-year-old victim, prompting his wife Huma Abedin to announce their separation.
In May 2017, Weiner pled guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor. Abedin subsequently announced that she had filed for divorce. On Sept. 13, the former congressman submitted a letter to Judge Cote noting that he was undergoing therapy for addiction and that he was attempting to make amends, according to The New York Times.
"My life isn't big and loud anymore," Weiner wrote. "Every day I quietly do what I can to keep getting better, and to fix the damage I've done."
The investigation into Weiner eventually had an impact on the 2016 presidential race. When FBI agents examined Weiner's laptop, they found that he and Abedin had a shared email account that included some messages from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had been previously probed for using a private email server while serving in the Obama administration. Abedin was a longtime aide to Clinton.
In October 2016, former FBI Director James Comey announced that he had reopened the Clinton investigation as his agents examined the emails on Weiner's laptop. The case was closed again shortly before the election, but Clinton has publicly charged that Comey's announcement derailed her campaign.
Clinton recounted Abedin's reaction to the news that her husband's conduct had thrust the email controversy back into the national spotlight during a passage from her new memoir, "What Happened."
"When we heard this Human looked stricken," Clinton wrote, according to People. "Anthony had already caused so much heartache. And now this. 'This man is going to be the death of me,' [Huma] said, bursting into tears."