Feds Weigh Child-Porn Case Against Weiner

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Federal prosecutors may bring child-pornography charges against former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl, the Wall Street Journal reports. Weiner is being investigated by the FBI, which seized his electronic devices, including a laptop and a cellphone. Weiner’s attorneys have had discussions with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in hopes of dissuading them from bringing charges, or at least from bringing the most serious one: production of child pornography, which carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence .

Weiner could face the production charge because he allegedly solicited explicit images from the teenager. A possible charge of receipt of child pornography carries a five-year mandatory minimum, and possession of child pornography has no mandatory minimum. Federal child pornography laws are broadly written. Prosecutors often take into account a range of contextual evidence, including whether a person specifically sought out a minor, whether the incident fits a pattern of similar behavior with minors and whether the person knew the individual was a minor. Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011, after the first reports that he had lewd exchanges with women online. The high-profile criminal probe upended the final days of the 2016 presidential race. FBI Director James Comey disclosed that agents had discovered a laptop used by Weiner and his now-estranged wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, with emails that might be related to the private email server used by Clinton as secretary of state.

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