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Tearful U.S. Congressman admits to online, phone sex

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 8:20 EDT
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NEW YORK (AFP) – Pressure was building Tuesday on New York congressman Anthony Weiner, who openly wept as he refused to resign amid stunning admissions that he lied about extramarital online and phone sex with several young women.

Observers of US politics were debating Weiner’s future after his nationally televised press conference Monday, where he said he was “deeply ashamed” for maintaining a string of lewd online relationships.

The 46-year-old Democrat admitted he had sent a close-up picture of an aroused male member in underpants to a woman in Seattle via his Twitter account.

For a week he hotly denied sending the picture and claimed to have been hacked, but wiping away tears, Weiner confessed: “The picture was of me and I sent it. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused.”

He said he had been sending naughty pictures online and sexting with about six women over the years and “we had become friends”.

But he said he had not met any of them and had not had a physical relationship outside his year-old marriage to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Weiner, a seven-term congressman who until now was seen as a leading candidate to take over as New York mayor in 2013, said he does not intend to resign his seat in the US House of Representatives.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a destructive thing to do,” he said. But “I am not resigning. I have made it clear that I accept responsibility for this.”

However, signaling his problems are not yet over, leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, said an ethics investigation should be opened.

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony’s wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred.”

With his admission, Weiner — the son of a schoolteacher who as a politician has played up his middle-class, not-so-privileged upbringing — becomes the third New York politician in recent times to get in trouble over kinky sex habits.

The state’s governor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in 2008 after being caught visiting expensive prostitutes, while earlier this year another married congressman, Chris Lee, stepped down over his attempt to arrange sex online.

The clean-cut, fast-talking Weiner has long been tabloid fodder thanks to his name. But the underpants crisis put him in a career-threatening twist.

In his groveling mea culpa, he said he’d encountered the women mostly via the social networking site Facebook and had not broken any laws. But once the underpants shot was exposed he “panicked” and lied, pretending to have been hacked.

“I was trying to protect my wife. I was trying to protect myself from shame. It was a mistake and I really regret it.”

One reason why Weiner finally decided to bare all to the press could be the growing body of evidence that he — not some prankster impersonating him — was the man in the underpants.

BigGovernment.com, a conservative website, posted new pictures that clearly showed Weiner’s face and naked torso.

Also, ABC News ran an interview Monday with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who says she has been in a sexting relationship with Weiner since April.

Without ever meeting, they exchanged graphic photos and flirtatious conversations, she said. The congressman also sent pictures of himself clothed, with his face visible.

This video is from Reuters, published Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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