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Former Congressman Anthony Weiner pleads guilty in sexting case

NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty Friday to transferring obscene material to a minor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

As part of the plea agreement, he will have to comply with the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act.

“Today, former Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted and pled guilty to sending sexually explicit images and directions to engage in sexual conduct to a girl he knew to be 15 years old,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement.

“Weiner’s conduct was not only reprehensible, but a federal crime, one for which he is now convicted and will be sentenced.”

Weiner, 52, was released on bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 8, the release said.

David Schaefer, a spokesman for the law firm Covington & Burling, whose attorney, Arlo Devlin-Brown, is representing Weiner, said the former congressman’s lawyer will comment later Friday.

In September, prosecutors in the office of then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a subpoena for Weiner’s cellphone and other records as part of an investigation into alleged sexting with a purportedly underage girl.

The allegations first surfaced in the Daily Mail.

The online sexting relationship allegedly went on for months between Weiner and a girl claiming to be just 15. The Daily Mail reported she said he sent her numerous photos, one of him in a pool and at least one bare-chested.

The outlet reported the girl said she reached out to Weiner last January on Twitter. In a statement at the time, Weiner neither confirmed or denied sending the texts.

“I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent. I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt,” he said.

“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. I am sorry.”

Weiner left Congress in June 2011 when sexually charged, sometimes explicit, texts with women other than his wife first emerged.

His social media habits continued after leaving Congress and contributed to his poor showing with his 2013 New York City mayoral campaign, a race in which he had once been a leading contender.

Weiner is estranged from Huma Abedin, a top aide to former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Weiner issued a statement after the court appearance.

Beginning with my service in Congress and continuing into the first half of last year, I have compulsively sought attention from women who contacted me on social media, and I engaged with many of them in both sexual and non-sexual conversation. These destructive impulses brought great devastation to family and friends, and destroyed my life’s dream of public service. And yet I remained in denial even as the world around me fell apart.

In late January 2016, I was contacted by and began exchanging online messages with a stranger who said that she was a high school student and who I understood to be 15 years old. Through approximately March 2016, I engaged in obscene communications with this teenager, including sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct, just as I had done and continued to do with adult women. I knew this was as morally wrong as it was unlawful.

This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom. I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.

I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.