The New York Police Department and a U.S. attorney in North Carolina have begun examining former congressman Anthony Weiner’s alleged sexually suggestive online messages with a teenage girl that were reported by a British media outlet, authorities said Thursday.
The exact parameters of the investigation remain unclear, but officials said that investigators are interested in a report from DailyMail.com that Weiner chatted with a 15-year-old girl for some months last year. The website reported that the girl had told Weiner she was in high school, and he once commented on her youth.
A New York Police Department spokeswoman said: “We are looking into it. We’re just looking into the situation.” A spokeswoman for U.S. attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose in the Western District of North Carolina said that office was “reviewing all materials relevant to the matter.”
CNN reported Thursday that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan had issued subpoenas seeking Weiner’s cellphone and other records. Representatives from that office did not immediate return messages comment.
Reached on the phone Thursday, Weiner said, “It’s a super-duper bad time” and asked a reporter to email him. He did not immediately respond to an email message.
Weiner is no stranger to so-called “sexting” scandals. He resigned from his seat representing New York’s 9th District in Congress in 2011 after reports of such behavior emerged, and another episode in 2013 helped derail his attempt to run for mayor of New York City. That was detailed in a documentary released this year called “Weiner,” which also showed uncomfortable scenes of Weiner and his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Abedin announced last month she was separating from her husband, following a report in the New York Post about another sexting episode with a woman. That report was particularly memorable for an image Weiner apparently sent to the woman while his son lay in bed next to him.
The 15-year-old at the center of the most recent exchange told DailyMail.com that her relationship with Weiner began last January, and the former congressman knew she was underage. She provided the website copies of some of the images and messages she and Weiner exchanged.
The messages also suggest the two discussed talking on Skype, and the girl told DailyMail.com that Weiner asked her to undress and encouraged her to masturbate over video chat. The girl alleged Weiner would appear shirtless and wearing boxers.
The girl told DailyMail.com that she believed her relationship with Weiner was consensual, and her father said he had not contacted authorities because her daughter asked him not to. Convincing minors to perform sex acts on video can lead to serious federal charges, including coercion and enticement, sexual exploitation of children or even production of child pornography.