Anthony Weiner, disgraced former member of Congress and current candidate for mayor of New York City, admitted on Tuesday that even after his resignation from Congress he continued developing sexually explicit online relationships with younger women who were not his wife. The revelation reminded us of a 2008 research paper from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. It was titled “Online ‘Predators’ and their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention and Treatment.”
The paper contained this description of the typical method by which sexual predators seduce young people online:
“The offenders use Internet communications such as instant messages, e-mail, and chatrooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with victims. In the great majority of cases, victims are aware they are conversing online with adults.
“Also, offenders rarely deceive victims about their sexual interests. Sex is usually broached online, and most victims who meet offenders face-to-face go to such meetings expecting to engage in sexual activity. Many victims profess love or close feelings for offenders.”
All of Anthony Weiner’s victims who have come forward have been adults, not minors. Other than that, his pattern of online sexual predation fits the above description precisely. The last victim, a 22-year-old who said she was going through a particularly vulnerable period, said she believed Weiner was falling in love with her, as she was with him. He promised to get her a job and buy her a condo.
Weiner’s behavior goes far beyond randy adventurism. It is predatory and psychologically abusive. And still, he might become mayor of America’s most important city. We have yet to see a more devastating commentary on contemporary American politics than this.