Earlier today we reported that as part of the government’s sentencing memorandum (published at the bottom), federal prosecutors asked that disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, and the man Hillary Clinton has quietly added to what has become a virtually infinite list of reasons why she lost the presidential election, be sentenced to about two years in prison for engaging in sexting with an underage, 15-year-old girl. Prosecutors filed paper in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday in advance of Weiner’s sentencing. In the document, prosecutors asked that the judge use the sentencing as an opportunity to send a message to other perverted politicians:
The Government respectfully submits this memorandum in connection with the sentencing of Anthony Weiner, which is scheduled for September 25, 2017, following his guilty plea to transferring obscene material to a minor. 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 non-custodial sentence that Weiner proposes is simply inadequate; his crime deserves time in prison. For the reasons set forth below, the Government respectfully requests that Court sentence Weiner to a term of imprisonment within the range of 21 to 27 months.
Weiner’s sentencing will take place almost exactly a year after the New York Post published a story about him sexting with another woman who wasn’t his wife. Weiner said he would plead guilty in May after prosecutors brought charges following revelations that he also sexted with the 15-year-old, whom he met over Twitter. Both the girl and her father told the Daily Mail that Weiner knew she was underaged when they were corresponding.
And just to make sure that Weiner does end up in jail, the US Attorney for the district of New York, Joon Kim, laid out in vivid – and gruesome detail – the circumstances of his pedophilia. As taken from the prosecutor memorandum:
In the evening of January 23, 2016, a 15-year-old girl (the “Minor Victim”) initiated contact with the defendant by sending him a direct message on Twitter. Over the next several hours, the Minor Victim and Weiner exchanged a series of messages, ranging from the mundane to the provocative. Early in the exchange, the Minor Victim revealed to Weiner that she was in high school. Despite knowing he was communicating with a high school student, Weiner participated in increasingly suggestive exchanges, telling the Minor Victim, among other things, that he thought she was “kinda sorta gorgeous.” Their communications continued the next morning on Facebook messenger, then moved to Kik, and at some later point, Confide and Snapchat. The latter three all are messaging and photo-sharing applications that delete messages and images once viewed.
As January turned to February, their intermittent exchanges grew more lascivious. This was despite the fact that there could be no reasonable doubt in Weiner’s mind that he was chatting with a minor – in addition to having revealed that she was a high school student, the Minor Victim told Weiner that she was getting her learner’s permit. She explained in Facebook chats that she has “parents that wouldn’t approve of some of the things” she does, and that she likes “older guys,” “[b]ut that’s illegal.” The defendant correctly observed, “You are young,” in one Kik message.
Against that backdrop, between February 17 and 23, 2016, Weiner and the Minor Victim participated in three video chat sessions on Skype.
There is no dispute that the Minor Victim repeatedly suggested that she and the defendant participate in video chats on Skype. Those suggestions were not, however, one-sided. For example, Twitter records reveal that during their first exchanges the night of January 23, 2016, at some point after the Minor Victim had suggested that they Skype, the defendant said “Leave the complex stuff for Skype.” That night as well, after a suggestive exchange, the defendant said “Maybe Skype someday.” Thus, although it was the Minor Victim who initially sought out Weiner, as the Government readily concedes, Weiner immediately responded to the Minor Victim’s overture and willingly participated in the offense conduct thereafter.
It was then that the Minor Victim made clear that she was not just a minor – she was, in fact, only 15 years old. That did not stop Weiner. During the latter two Skype sessions, on February 18 and 23, 2016, and in a Snapchat communication on March 9, 2016, the defendant used graphic and obscene language to ask the Minor Victim to display her naked body and touch herself, which she did. He also sent an obscene message to the Minor Victim on Confide, describing what he would do to her, if she were 18. Part and parcel of these disturbing – and criminal – exchanges, the defendant also sent the Minor Victim adult pornography. In approximately March 2016, after several months of intermittent exchanges, communications between the defendant and Minor Victim largely stopped. The Minor Victim made efforts to re-engage, but was met with limited responsiveness.
The instant conduct was revealed to the public and law enforcement in September 2016, when the Daily Mail published the Minor Victim’s account of her communications with Weiner after she participated in a paid interview.
And some further commentary from the proscuting attorney:
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. 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.” Weiner’s criminal conduct was very serious, and the sentence imposed should reflect that seriousness.
The defendant claims that he “responded to the victim’s request for sexually explicit messages not because she was a teenager, but in spite of it.” While the Government does not contend that Weiner engaged in inappropriate sexual exchanges with other minors or that he is a pedophile, his professed ambivalence towards the Minor Victim’s age is belied by the defendant’s own statements to the court-appointed evaluator during his evaluation. Moreover, the defendant has acknowledged an interest in legal, adult, teen-themed pornography. In the context of this admitted interest, his insistence that he deserves a lighter sentence because the Minor Victim’s age meant nothing to him rings hollow. Even if the Court were to credit Weiner’s claim of ambivalence to the Minor Victim’s age, that purported ambivalence is part of the problem. That his victim was a minor – and therefore his conduct a serious crime – did not deter Weiner from forging ahead.
The defendant’s submission repeatedly makes note of the 15-year-old Minor Victim’s various motives for communicating with Weiner and her profit from sharing those communications with the media. While careful not to cast blame on the Minor Victim outright or disclaim ultimate responsibility for his crime, he relies, in part, on the circumstances of their communications in arguing for a sentence of probation. That argument should be rejected, and Weiner should be sentenced for what he did – not what motived the Minor Victim. Weiner, a grown man, a father, and a former lawmaker, willfully and knowingly asked a 15-year-old girl to display her body and engage in sexually explicit conduct for him online. Such conduct warrants a meaningful sentence of incarceration.
Defense lawyers had portrayed the girl as an aggressor, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election. Prosecutors responded that Weiner should be sentenced for what he did, and his victim’s motives should not influence his punishment. A defense lawyer declined to comment Wednesday.
Weiner, 53, said in a submission last week that he’s undergoing treatment and is profoundly sorry for subjecting the North Carolina high school student to what his lawyers called his “deep sickness.”
In a plea bargain, Weiner agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months. Prosecutors said the sentence should fall within that span, and they noted that Probation Office authorities had recommended a 27-month prison term.
He will be sentenced to prison next Monday.
The full sentencing guildeline filed by prosecutors is below.
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