Prosecutors have asked a judge to put disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the former husband of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in jail, warning that other teens may be at risk otherwise.
Weiner was caught exchanging obscene messages and images with a 15-year-old girl and is to be sentenced Monday.
In a sentencing memorandum entered in a Manhattan court, prosecutors with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Wednesday urged a federal judge to jail Wiener for 21 to 27 months.
Weiner has shown a “dangerous level of denial” and “lack of self-control” that could put other teenagers at risk, the 11-page memorandum states.
“Although the defendant’s self-destructive path from United States Congressman to felon is indisputably sad, his crime is serious and his demonstrated need for deterrence is real,” the prosecutors wrote. “The non-custodial sentence that Weiner proposes is simply inadequate; his crime deserves time in prison.”
Prosecutors urged the judge to consider how many times Weiner has engaged in widely publicized interactions with adult women.
“This is not merely a ‘sexting’ case. The defendant did far more than exchange typed words on a lifeless cellphone screen with a faceless stranger,” the prosecutors’ memorandum stated. “With full knowledge that he was communicating with a real 15-year-old girl, the defendant asked her to engage in sexually explicit conduct via Skype and Snapchat, where her body was on display, and where she was asked to sexually perform for him.
“That offense – transmitting obscenity to a minor to induce her to engage in sexually explicit conduct by video chat and photo – is far from mere ‘sexting,'” the memo continued. “Weiner’s criminal conduct was very serious, and the sentence imposed should reflect that seriousness.”
Prosecutors also argued that Weiner, who represented a New York congressional district for 12 years, is undeserving of leniency because he co-sponsored a January 2007 bill to requiring sex offenders to register their email and instant message addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry.
Defense lawyers attempted to assign blame to the girl, claiming she was the aggressor, wanted to probe information from him for a book and possibly influence the presidential election. But prosecutors argued the motives of the victim should not influence his punishment.
Weiner, 53, pleaded guilty in May to one count of sending obscene material to a minor, a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York suggested a prison term of about two years as part of his plea agreement.
Last week, Weiner asked the judge not to send him to prison. In a sentencing submission, attorneys for the former congressman submitted a filing arguing that Weiner should be spared from prison because of a “deep sickness” and attributed his questionable behavior to his mental health.
“Adulation from strangers allowed Anthony to avoid grappling with his emotional deficits — at least until his career and personal life crashed down spectacularly,” the memo said.
The document was filed the same day Weiner appeared in a different court for a divorce proceeding with Abedin.
Abedin filed for divorce the day of his guilty plea but still wrote in support of his bid for leniency.
The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan began investigating Weiner last September after it was revealed he carried on a months-long online sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.
The girl told the London Daily Mail – which paid the girl $30,000 for her story – that the disgraced former congressman asked her to dress up in “school-girl” outfits for him, strip naked, touch herself for him on video messaging applications Skype and Snapchat and pressed her to engage in “rape fantasies.”
Weiner’s laptop was subsequently seized by law enforcement officials, who found correspondence between Abedin and then-Democratic Party presidential nominee Hilary Clinton.
The scandal prompted then-FBI Director James Comey to announce in October he was reopening a probe into Clinton’s private email server.
The girl, who has not been named, alleged that she began the online relationship with Weiner in January 2015, while she was a high-school sophomore and before Abedin announced she was ending their marriage.
The once-rising Democrat political star has faced a number of sexting scandals since 2011, when he was forced to resign from Congress after his online sexual messages with a female college student surfaced.
He derailed his bid for New York City mayor in 2013 after he was caught sexting with 22-year-old Sydney Leathers.
His alias “Carlos Danger” was disclosed in the course of that scandal.