Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner “deserves time in prison” — about two years — for sexual communications with a 15-year-old girl, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday ahead of next week’s sentencing.
In a submission last week, defense lawyers argued Weiner — who is in the midst of getting divorced from Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin — should be spared jail time because the teenager at the center of the case wanted to write a tell-all book and hoped to influence the presidential election.
But the U.S. Attorney’s office urged the judge not to let the disgraced Democrat off the hook on Monday, citing a “dangerous level of denial and lack of self-control.”
“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,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.
“The non-custodial sentence that Weiner proposes is simply inadequate; his crime deserves time in prison,” they added.
Weiner pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor; sentencing guidelines call for 10 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended 21 to 27 months, a range that Weiner agreed under his plea deal not to appeal.
Justifying a lighter punishment, prosecutors noted that Weiner never attempted to meet the teenager or other minors and didn’t seek out child pornography online. However, in arguing for some prison time, they said the case went well beyond “sexting,” with the girl disrobing during video sessions.
“The defendant did far more than exchange typed words on a lifeless cellphone screen with a faceless stranger,” prosecutors wrote.
“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.”
The X-rated exchanges took place in early 2016 and came to light that September when the teen told her story, for a $30,000 fee, to the British tabloid the Daily Mail.
By then, Weiner’s interest in online hookups was well known.
In 2011, he accidentally sent a crotch shot of himself via Twitter to a college student, then resigned from Congress as more photos surfaced. Two years later, the still-married politician mounted a campaign for New York City mayor that went down in flames amid revelations that he was still sexting.
Prosecutors said Weiner’s prior scandals, though not criminal, should be considered by the court as it decides whether he’s really rehabilitated himself.
“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.
In his own letter to the judge, Weiner acknowledged that he had endangered the well-being of a 15-year-old girl but suggested he had already paid a high price.
“My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage,” he wrote.