Anthony Weiner may have been sexting with a 15-year-old — and it may mean jail time
Anthony Weiner and sexting: a love story, in which the latest chapter is an alleged months-long texting relationship between the former mayoral candidate and an anonymous teen, whom he may or may not have encouraged to "engage in 'rape fantasies'" via social media, according to an exclusive report published Wednesday by the Daily Mail.
The tabloid reported that Weiner began a message exchange with a 15-year-old girl in January 2016, when she direct messaged him on Twitter. The two allegedly chatted on that platform, as well as on Facebook and two messaging apps, Kik and Confide.
The Mail provided myriad incriminating screenshots of the back-and-forth, in which Weiner compliments the girl's body, makes a thinly-veiled reference to his erection, shares pictures of his shirtless chest and, in clear, often clunky terms, comes onto her.
"I would bust that tight pussy so hard and so often that you would leak and limp for a week," Weiner reportedly wrote in one particularly graphic dispatch.
The girl told the Mail that, when the pair spoke on Skype, Weiner asked her to take off her clothes and encouraged her to talk about masturbation. She also said that she did not consider Weiner to be her boyfriend, although she did consider their relationship "consensual" and "romantic." The girl's father told the Mail that the family won't be pressing charges, citing the potential impact it would have on his daughter's already-jeopardized mental health.
And the question of mental well-being is one reason why Weiner could find himself in trouble with the law, whether or not the family sets legal proceedings in motion.
In a phone interview, Kimberly Summers, a criminal defense attorney at Summers & Schneider in New York City, was asked whether a man sending sexually-charged texts to a 15-year-old amounts to a sex crime, to which Summers replied with an unequivocal, "Yes. It does." Summers enumerated the possible charges Weiner could face, beginning with endangerment of a child.
"A person is endangering the welfare of a child when they know that they're acting in a way that's likely to injure the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child," Summers explained.
Being under 17, the girl in question is considered a child; so, Summers continued, the messages and photos Weiner allegedly sent needn't have affected her in any measurable way. The mere fact that he would have sent them, aware that his conduct could have done her damage, would be enough to garner him a count of child endangerment — one count for every inappropriate message.
Then, there's dissemination of indecent material to a minor: using a computer or other electronic medium to send inappropriate images or other content to someone who's underage. If the material "invites or induces that minor to engage in sexual conduct for his benefit," Summers explains in a blog post, it qualifies as indecent and thus, illegal. Weiner's alleged aforementioned text, Skype requests for nudity and pleas that she send pics all do.
He could face completed and attempted variations on both charges, along with possible charges of soliciting a minor if he tried to get her to meet him in person, Summers said. Whatever way the district attorney might slice it, she continued, Weiner could face jail time.
"Several of the charges are likely to be class D felonies, which carry a minimum sentence of one to three years in jail and a maximum of seven years in jail," Summers wrote in her blog post.
Summers says she's seen people get "one, two, three years" behind bars for the felonies Weiner may have committed. "A jail sentence could be a very real possibility for him," she said.
For his part, Weiner has apologized for the incident while also saying it may not have happened at all. "I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent," Weiner wrote in a statement to the Mail. "I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt."
"While I have provided the Daily Mail with information showing that I have likely been the subject of a hoax, I have no one to blame but me for putting myself in this position," he continued. "I am sorry."
And yet the texting scandals keep rolling in — the most recent of them broke in August, when the New York Daily News leaked texts and photos he'd sent another woman (not a minor), and which prompted his wife, top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to announce their separation.
Before that, Weiner's mayoral campaign went off the rails when sexts he'd sent one Sydney Leathers — under the nom de plume Carlos Danger — leaked in 2013. Before that, he was forced to resign his political duties when a mistakenly posted selfie of him in his skivvies found its way to the internet, leading him to publicly admit that he'd been conducting internet exchanges with some seven women.
But as bad as his previous conduct has been, this might be the first time his actions could land him behind bars.