Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison with three years probation for sending sexually explicit messages and photos to a 15-year-old girl.
Weiner sobbed as Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York handed down the sentence, telling him, “This is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment.” He grabbed tissues to wipe away his tears and stood crying after the judge left the courtroom in lower Manhattan.
He will begin serving time on Nov. 6 and must register as a sex offender after his prison term is complete. He cannot appeal his sentence due to his guilty plea.
At the sentencing, prosecutor Amanda Kramer of the U.S. Attorney’s office, asked for 21 to 27 months behind bars, noting that on “three occasions in 2016, he asked the 15-year-old to get naked and asked her to perform.”
Prior to his sentencing, Weiner cried while reading a written statement, saying in part, “The crime I committed was my rock bottom,” adding, “I was a very sick man for a long time.” He also admitted he is “an addict” and attends twice-weekly group therapy, individual therapy, and helps others.
Weiner’s parents and brother were in the courtroom, but Abedin was not.
Between Feb. 17 and 23, 2016, Weiner and the teen participated in three video chat sessions on Skype, and “it was then that the minor victim made clear that she was not just a minor — she was in fact, only 15 years old,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “That did not stop Weiner.”
Prosecutors continued, “During the latter two Skype sessions, on February 18 and 23, 2016, and in a Snapchat communication on March 9, 2016, the defendant used graphic and obscene language to ask the Minor Victim to display her naked body and touch herself, which she did.”
Weiner, the father of a 5-year-old son, also sent an obscene message to the teen on the app Confide, “describing what he would do to her, if she were 18,” prosecutors Amanda Kramer and Stephanie Lake wrote.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Weiner, a Democrat, resigned his congressional seat in June 2011 after his first sexting scandal, and his second sexting scandal in 2013 scuttled his bid for a political comeback as a New York City mayoral candidate.
While Weiner‘s attorneys asked for probation and no prison time, prosecutors wanted Weiner to serve to 21 to 27 months behind bars. He faced up to 10 years in prison.
“On prior occasions, as here, Weiner has followed the same pattern: he initially denied his conduct; he suffered personal and professional consequences; he publicly apologized and claimed reform,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
“Yet, he has, on multiple occasions, continued to engage in the very conduct he swore off, progressing from that which is self-destructive to that which is also destructive to a teenage girl — a minor the law recognizes as needing protection.”
The teen initiated the contact with Weiner on Jan. 23, 2016, via Twitter, and “early on” told Weiner that she was a high school student, prosecutors said. He told the teen she was “kinda sorta gorgeous.”
• PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: 35 Real Cases That Inspired the Show Law & Order is on sale now.
Their interactions continued intermittently through March 2016 over Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and the confidential messaging apps Kik, Confide and Snapchat.
When the victim revealed the exchanges to the Daily Mail in Sept. 2016, it led to the FBI seizing Weiner‘s computer. Subsequently, former FBI Director James Comey made his bombshell announcement shortly before Election Day that the FBI had uncovered emails belonging to Abedin on Weiner’s computer that appeared to be “pertinent” to the Clinton email investigation. Comey announced that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Clinton’s emails, which Clinton has said contributed to her defeat.
Nine days later, and just 36 hours before the election, Comey announced there was nothing new in this batch of emails and that the FBI would not seek charges against the Democratic nominee.
“Well, great. Too little, too late,” Clinton wrote in her new best-selling memoir, What Happened. “The rest is history.”