WASHINGTON - Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner has pleaded guilty to criminal charges involving his contact online with a 15-year-old girl, an admission that will result in an expected prison term and registry as a sex offender.
Shortly after Weiner appeared in court in New York, his estranged wife, Hillary Clinton's close aide Huma Abedin, filed for divorce. She asked that records of case be kept sealed from public view.
The 52-year-old political figure, once a rising star in Democratic Party circles in New York City, wept in court as he admitted the charges against him and agreed not to appeal against a prison sentence ranging from 21 to 27 months.
“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” Weiner said in what his attorneys said was an apology to his 15-year-old victim. She told a tabloid news site last year that the ex-congressman had been exchanging lewd messages over the internet with her for several months.
Forced out of Congress after 12 years
Weiner, who has been embroiled in several similar sex scandals, asked the teenager, who did not live in New York, to undress for him on camera, she said.
The Brooklyn-born, six-term congressman was forced to resign from the House of Representatives in 2011 — the same year his and Huma Abedin's son was born — after a sexually explicit image of him appeared on his public Twitter account. Weiner said the post was an accident, but later admitted that he had exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over a three-year period.
Two years later, in 2013, another “sexting” scandal erupted just as Weiner was preparing to enter the New York City mayoral race. He had used an alias, “Carlos Danger,” to send explicit images of himself to a 22-year-old woman from the state of Indiana.
Abedin left Weiner 9 months ago
News of that incident forced Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race. Abedin eventually announced she was leaving her husband in August of last year, after it was reported Weiner had exchanged sexually explicit text messages with another woman while lying in bed in their apartment with his son.
Abedin was considered Hillary Clinton's closest and most trusted aide, and was an influential member of the former first lady's presidential campaign last year, which ended in defeat to Republican Donald Trump.
Abedin and Weiner's marriage in 2010 attracted wide notice because of their prominent political profiles and because of the “only in New York” circumstances that brought them together. Although both were liberal Democrats, their union seemed unlikely, at least in part because she is Muslim and he is Jewish.
Weiner's misdeeds put him under FBI scrutiny, and that investigation collided with Abedin's work for Clinton, under investigation herself for a series of controversial email practices. Federal agents searching a computer Weiner used found a cache of email messages between Clinton and Abedin, and news of that discovery became an issue in the latter stages of the U.S. political campaign.