Former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting a fifteen-year-old girl, according to The New York Times, ending one of the most staggering falls from grace in American political history.
Weiner, who became something of a folk hero when a video of him yelling at his Republican opponents on the House floor went viral, was forced to resign from Congress in 2011 for accidentally posting a shot of his crotch on his Twitter account, which he meant to send to a woman. After some time away from the spotlight, he announced that he would run for Mayor New York in 2013, doing very well at the beginning of the primary. However, as documented in the film Weiner, it was revealed that he was still sexting under the name “Carlos Danger.” Old habits die hard, and so did Weiner’s candidacy, as he cratered in the polls and lost to current Mayor Bill De Blasio.
Then, last September, the Daily Mail revealed that Weiner was at it again, going so far as to send pictures of himself, wearing very tight boxers, with his young son next to him. It was later revealed that the girl, whom he got to undress for him over Skype, was underage. This investigation ended up coinciding with the re-opening of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, which Clinton, in her new book What Happened, credits with costing her the election.
In the book, Clinton recounts the moment when Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife and one of her closest aides, burst into tears when she heard about the investigation, sobbing, “This man is going to be the death of me.” Abedin had separated from Weiner after the Daily Mail story; this past May, she filed for divorce, the same month Weiner announced he was pleading guilty in his upcoming trial. She did not show up to today’s sentencing.
In a letter to Judge Denise Cote earlier this month, Weiner wrote, “My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage. I am so deeply sorry for the harm I have done to her, and I live with the sorrow that I will never be able to fix that.” The letter appears remorseful, as if Weiner has finally realized that he has an addiction. But the damage had already been done.
Before the verdict was read, Weiner said, “I am profoundly sorry. The crime I committed was my rock bottom…I live a different and better life today.” As he was sentenced, he began to cry. He continued to do so after people filed out of the courtroom and Judge Cote left the bench.
Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.