Anthony Weiner broke down in tears on Monday as he was sentenced to 21 months in prison by a federal judge in New York City after the disgraced former congressman admitted to sexting with an underage teen girl.
The judge ordered that he turn himself in by Nov. 6. Weiner was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and must pay a $10,000 fine.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Denise Cote said, “This is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment.”
Although she said she believed Weiner was "intensely engaged with his [sex addiction] treatment," Cote stressed that the sentencing was an "opportunity to make a statement that could protect other minors" due to the intense public interest in the case and the defendant's "notoriety."
Of the teenage girl Weiner exchanged lewd messages with, Cote said, "She was a minor, she was a victim, and she is entitled to the law's full protection."
Weiner had made a tearful statement in court, saying, "I have a disease but I do not have an excuse."
"If I had done the right thing I would not be standing before you today," he added.
"The crime I committed was my rock bottom."
"I was a very sick man for a very long time," Weiner said.
In addition to prison time, three years of probation, and the fine, Weiner must, during his probation period, seek and maintain full meaningful employment, enter a computer internet monitoring program, and have his electronic devices searched. Weiner must also have no contact with the victim.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Weiner's defense attorney, Arlo Devlin-Brown, said they were "disappointed" by the sentence.
"Judge Cote reasoned that because of Anthony's notoriety, a sentence of imprisonment could discourage others from following in his footsteps," the attorney said. "We certainly hope this public service message is received, but it has resulted in a punishment more severe than it had to be given the unusual facts and circumstances of this case.”
The 52-year-old former Queens Democratic representative pleaded guilty in May to sending lewd messages to a 15-year-old girl between January and March last year, including sexually explicit images and directions to engage in sexual conduct.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of between 21 and 27 months, but Weiner’s lawyers had argued he should receive a sentence of probation.
"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,” acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H. Kim had said.
Monday’s decision marks an end to the criminal case that rocked US politics just days away from the 2016 presidential election, when former FBI director James Comey briefly reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server after agents investigating Weiner found emails from the Democratic candidate on a computer belonging to him and his wife — a top Clinton aide — Huma Abedin. The former secretary of state has blamed that decision, in part, for her stunning defeat to President Donald Trump.
It also represents yet another humiliating low for Weiner, a once popular and charismatic politician whose promising congressional career and 2013 campaign for New York City mayor were undone by his online behavior: accidentally tweeting an image of his bulging crotch, sexting with a woman while using the pseudonym Carlos Danger, the publication of a photo he sent to another woman in which his young son could be seen in bed next to him, and, finally, the revelation that he had sexted with an underage girl.
His actions have also cost him his family, with Abedin filing for divorce last year when the picture of their son in bed was splashed across the cover of the New York Post in August 2016.
Abedin was not in court for Monday's sentencing.
"I think it's clear that Anthony had a deep sickness, whatever you want to call it," lawyer Devlin-Brown said in court on Monday.
The teenage girl first contacted Weiner via Twitter in January 2016, with their conversations becoming increasingly sexual. At one stage, Weiner sent the teen pornography, and he also used Skype and Snapchat to ask the girl to touch herself for him, which she did. After their conversations stopped, the girl eventually sold her story to DailyMail.com, which published screenshots of the pair’s conversations.
While careful not to be seen as blaming the teen for Weiner’s actions, his lawyers argued that the girl was motivated by a desire to profit and to influence the election.
“That argument should be rejected,” prosecutors urged the court, “and Weiner should be sentenced for what he did not what motivated the Minor Victim.”
Interviewed by BuzzFeed News prior to the election, the teenage girl and her father both said they did not support Donald Trump. The girl described herself as a “big fan” of the Clintons and said she would to move to Germany if Trump were elected. Since the election, she has shared anti-Trump memes on her Facebook account.
She and her father also said they were upset with Comey's public announcement.
"The last thing that I wanted was to have this become political propaganda," she said.
"Why couldn’t your letter have waited until after the election, so I would not have to be the center of attention the last week of the election cycle?" she wrote in an open letter to Comey.
Weiner's lawyers had argued that his "hunger for the adulation of strangers" came about in part to "[mask] emotional deficits with roots in his childhood" caused by the "troubled behavior of his elder brother."
The disgraced politician has since received treatment at a facility for people with sex addiction after he said he hit “rock bottom.”
“I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day,” he said in May.
"Anthony is in a very different place — mentally, emotionally — than he was before," defense attorney Devlin-Brown said Monday.
But prosecutors had warned the judge to be skeptical of Weiner's "claimed enlightenment and post-conduct rehabilitation" given his "widely-reported prior scandals."
"Weiner’s demonstrated history of professed, yet failed, reform make it difficult to rely on his present claim of self-awareness and transformation," they wrote.