Updated at 12:07 p.m. ET
Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman from New York, pleaded guilty Friday to one charge of transferring obscene material to a minor after he was investigated for sending sexual messages to a 15-year-old girl last year.
Weiner will have to register as a sex offender and could be sentenced to years in prison, The Associated Press reports. As part of his plea deal, he has agreed not to appeal any sentence of 27 months or less, Reuters says.
Weiner cried in court and issued an apology to the teenager, the AP writes.
“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” he said, according to the wire service.
The British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail first reported on the explicit texts that prompted the criminal case, based on images and descriptions provided by the teenage girl in North Carolina. She said that Weiner, then 51, carried out a monthslong sexually explicit conversation with her in which he asked her to undress and sent her semiclothed photos of himself.
Weiner did not deny that he sent the messages, although he did initially suggest that he had been the victim of a “hoax.”
At the risk of understatement: This is not Weiner’s first sexting scandal.
In 2011, while serving in Congress, he accidentally tweeted to the world a photo of his boxer-clad erection. He initially claimed he was hacked before admitting he was trying to send it to a woman who was not his wife. It was the start of a spiraling scandal that tanked his political career and often brought a sense of deja vu to the news.
Again and again, he sent sexual messages to women, despite promising his family and his supporters that he would stop. Last year, he even sent salacious images of himself to a woman while his young son was next to him in bed — and visible in the shot.
But this scandal involved sexting with a minor — and led to criminal charges.
Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s top aide. The sexting case unexpectedly played a prominent role in the election, after investigators looking into Weiner’s laptop found some of Abedin’s work emails.
Shortly before the election, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that the newly discovered emails needed to be examined, as part of the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server. After reopening the probe, the FBI determined the emails on Weiner’s computer did not change the agency’s decision that no charges should be brought against Clinton.