Former congressman Anthony Weiner admitted in court Friday to sending sexually explicit messages and photos to a 15-year-old girl, PEOPLE confirms.
Weiner pleaded guilty in federal court to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor. The disgraced politician surrendered to the FBI in New York Friday morning, and pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Loretta Preska.
Weiner was released on bail and will be sentenced on September 8. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
A court official tells PEOPLE Weiner fought through tears as he read a statement in court. He acknowledged sending sexually explicit texts to an underage girl was “morally” wrong and illegal.
“This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness,” Weiner read in court. “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.”
He also apologized to his victim, “whom I mistreated so badly.”
“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 Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“Weiner’s conduct was not only reprehensible, but a federal crime, one for which he is now convicted and will be sentenced. We thank the FBI and the NYPD for their work in this investigation,” the statement added.
Weiner admitted that between January and March of last year, he used online messaging and video chat applications to communicate with a minor girl he knew to be 15.
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“In the course of those communications, Weiner transferred obscene material to the Minor Victim, including directions to engage in sexual conduct and sexually explicit images,” the statement from Kim reads.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan began investigating Weiner’s online activities after reports surfaced last fall that he had carried on a months-long online sexual relationship with the girl.
The 52-year-old New York Democrat’s electronic devices, including a laptop and a cellphone, were seized by officials as part of the probe.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that lawyers for Weiner had recently met with federal prosecutors in Manhattan to try to convince them not to bring charges — particularly, the charge of production of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted.
Weiner’s latest sexting scandal roiled the final days of the 2016 presidential race, when the FBI announced it was investigating emails potentially linked to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton that were discovered on devices seized from Weiner and his now-estranged wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Weiner was forced to resign from Congress in 2011 after his first sexting scandal, in which it was revealed that he had been exchanging sexually explicit messages with multiple women.
His second sexting scandal broke in 2013 and derailed his comeback mayoral campaign.
Weiner’s attorneys refused to comment to PEOPLE on Friday’s developments.