Former United States Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose penchant for sexting strangers ended his political career and sparked a probe that upended the presidential race, pleaded guilty to a sex charge, tearfully apologising
for communications with a 15-year-old girl that he said destroyed his "life's dream in public service".
Weiner pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting sexual material to a minor, admitting he began exchanging online messages with the girl in January 2015 and engaged in obscene communications that included "sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct".
"I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," he said.
The 52-year-old former Democratic congressman paused repeatedly as he fought back tears and tried to compose himself. He said he knew the texting was "as morally wrong as it was unlawful".
Pleading to the charge, which will require that he register as a sex offender, exposes him to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but Weiner signed a plea agreement with prosecutors in which he agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months in prison. His lawyer can request leniency at a sentencing scheduled for September 8.