Online communications between disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner and a 15-year-old girl are being investigated by law enforcement agencies in New York and North Carolina, officials said Thursday.
The office of Jill Westmoreland Rose, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, has “begun investigative efforts,” a spokeswoman said. An FBI task force in New York designed to combat the sexual exploitation of children also is investigating, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing case and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The investigations were launched after the website of Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid on Wednesday published an interview with the girl in which she described online and text exchanges with Weiner that went on for several months this year. The girl said that during a Skype chat, Weiner asked her to undress and touch herself.
Weiner, a Democrat who resigned from Congress in 2011 amid a sexting scandal, didn’t return text or email messages seeking comment Thursday.
But in a statement he gave to the Associated Press on Wednesday, he said he had “likely been the subject of a hoax,” and he provided an email written by the girl in which she recanted her story. He also apologized, noting he had “repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent.”
The girl, whose identity the Daily Mail didn’t reveal, said she told her father and a teacher about the relationship. She said she wrote the email because Weiner asked her to but never sent it.
A spokeswoman for the FBI and a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan declined to comment.
Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and has a young son with her. He resigned from Congress after it was revealed he had been exchanging sexually explicit messages with women.
He then unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2013 and was leading several polls until it was revealed he had continued his questionable behavior. Abedin left him this month after revelations he had sent sexually charged messages to another woman.