CIVIC CENTER — Disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday for exchanging lewd messages with a 15-year-old girl.
"This is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment," said U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote, who imposed Tuesday's sentence.
"He has a disease that involves sexual compulsivity. He is finally receiving effective treatment for this disease," she added.
The former mayoral candidate sobbed openly in the courtroom as his sentence was delivered, with his lawyers consoling the 53-year-old.
Weiner, who has until Nov. 6 to surrender to authorities, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release in addition to the prison term.
His access to social media will also be limited, officials said.
"Justice demands that this type of conduct be prosecuted and punished with time in prison," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement following the sentencing. "Today, Anthony Weiner received a just sentence that was appropriate for his crime.”
Judge Cote said she hoped Weiner's sentence would be an "opportunity to make a statement that could protect other minors."
"The crime here is engaging in this kind of activity with a minor over the internet. He did not control that behavior to make sure it did not cross the line," Cote said.
During the sentencing, Weiner apologized to the girl.
"I'm profoundly sorry to the victim for my crime. ... I was a very sick man," he said.
"I victimized a young person who truly deserved better. I don't ask that you trust me. I long ago forfeited that right," Weiner added.
The girl first contacted the former congressman on Twitter in January 2016, and Weiner repeatedly made sexual comments to her over a three-month period, federal prosecutors said.
She made her age obvious, telling Weiner about getting a learner's permit and that she was a high school student, prosecutors said.
"The defendant knew this young woman was in high school. He never took any steps to ensure she wasn't a minor," Cote said.
Cote noted that Weiner didn't appear to have any interest in underage girls, but was driven instead by "sexual compulsivity."
In March 2016, the two were talking on the video messaging program Skype when Weiner convinced her to strip and behave sexually, prosecutors said.
Weiner never met the girl in person and eventually stopped communicating with her, but that September the Daily Mail paid her for an interview about the exchanges.
He pleaded guilty in May to sending lewd images to a minor and wept in court.
"I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," Weiner told the court at the time.
"I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed," he added.
Federal prosecutors initially recommended the onetime congressman serve 27 months in prison.
Family members including Weiner's parents and wife, Huma Abedin, asked the judge for lenience.
They described Weiner as a fundamentally caring person and a loving father, but with emotional problems that he's being treated for.
Abedin, who is divorcing Weiner, asked the judge to consider their son in her one-page letter, most of which was redacted.
"This is not a letter I ever imagined I would write, but, with Anthony, I have repeatedly found myself in circumstances I never imagined. I am devastated by Anthony's actions, and I understand he must face their consequences," Abedin wrote.
During his sentencing, which Abedin did not attend, Weiner called his son "the one perfect thing in my life" and hopes his conviction will serve as a lesson in "accepting responsibility" for the boy.
"I'll always be there for him. I betrayed his amazing mother," Weiner said.
Weiner represented part of Brooklyn and Queens from 1999 until he resigned in 2011 amid the first of several sexting scandals.
That year, he Tweeted a photo of his groin that he meant to send to one of his followers.
In a later press conference, he admitted to sending lewd photos to six women over three years.
Weiner tried to return to politics in 2013 by running for mayor, but dropped out when it was revealed that he'd again sent illicit photos to a young woman.
A documentary team meant to capture his road to Gracie Mansion ended up filming his campaign's meltdown. The resulting film, "Weiner," was released in 2016.
Despite the 2013 revelations, Weiner continued to be "intensely engaged in online conversations with women," Cote said.
However, the federal judge lauded Weiner for treating his "disease."
"He's throwing himself into his treatment intensely," Cote said.