Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin announced Monday plans to separate from husband Anthony Weiner amid new allegations of his old habit.
In a scathing report that hit newsstands Monday morning, the New York Post revealed Weiner, a former congressman and one-time mayoral candidate for New York City, has been sending sizzling text messages to a "busty brunette," including a clothed crotch shot that also featured his 5-year-old son Jordon sleeping beside him.
Hours after the Post published its report online, Weiner deleted his Twitter account.
Conversations between Weiner and the woman, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, began in January 2015 and continued through earlier this month. In an interview with the paper, Weiner said he and the mystery woman "have been friends for some time."
Later Monday, Abedin, his wife of six years, announced she would be seeking a separation:
"After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy."
It’s been reported that Abedin only became aware of the new photo on Sunday when the Post called to seek commentary from Weiner on the story, forcing him to admit his latest indiscretions to Abedin while they were both in the Hamptons with their son. Weiner then returned to the city alone on Monday.
Earlier in August, the Post revealed Weiner to be the victim of a “catfish” trap in which a Republican activist posed as a paramour and exchanged suggestive texts with Weiner, under the handle “Nikki.”
Weiner's first indiscretion was in 2011 when he accidentally publicly tweeted an explicit photo of himself that was meant to be sent privately to an adult woman follower. He initially denied posting the image, but later held a press conference to admit and apologize for carrying on online relationships with about six women over a three-year period. When the photo surfaced weeks later, Weiner resigned from Congress on June 21.
Then, while attempting a political comeback in a New York mayoral bid in 2013, a 22-year-old woman by the name of Sydney Leathers came forward to say she had been exchanging explicit photos and texts with Weiner who was using the alias “Carlos Danger.” The new revelations sank his candidacy.
While not necessarily a “sex addiction” Dr. N.G. Berrill, a Brooklyn-based forensic psychologist who does not treat Weiner, said his repeated, high-risk indiscretions are “reflective of a paraphilic disorder.” Colloquially known as fetishes, voyeurism and exhibitionism are common paraphilic disorders.
“It’s not uncommon for people with paraphilic disorder to be compulsive in regards to their behavior,” Dr. Berrill said. “It’s not a one shot deal — the activity is very reinforcing and very exciting. That is something the individual struggles with, weighing the pleasures of the behavior with the downside of being exposed.”
Dr. Berrill said that in light of his repeated indiscretions and the risks to his and his wife’s political career as Hillary Clinton’s top aide, his “obsession is rather pronounced and the compulsivity outweighs his ability to control his behavior.”
It’s important to keep in mind, Dr. Berrill said, that Weiner has not broken the law, but because of the sexual nature of his indiscretions, he is a target for public embarrassment. Whereas if it were a “DUI or a substance abuse addiction, people might find it more relatable and forgivable.”
The fact that Abedin did not give up on Weiner was the sign of a good partnership and not a bad one, Dr. Berrill said. It indicates commitment on the part of both partners to work on the problem and maintain a supportive environment.
The stakes are particularly high for Abedin now as she toils away in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which cannot risk humiliating surprises that could be exploited by the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Yet there does come a time in the relationship when the partner feels like enough is enough. “They traveled as far as they can travel with this thing, and the risks are too great to bear,” Dr. Berrill said.