Byline: The Register-Guard
Two men were sentenced Monday for sex-related crimes. One had been a U.S. congressman, part of a high-profile marriage and once hoped to become mayor of New York City. The other was a kid who attended North Eugene High.
In New York, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, 53, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined $10,000 for exchanging lewd texts with women and girls, one as young as 15.
In Eugene, Shea Settlemyer-Giughiano, 18, was sentenced to probation for being the ringleader of a scandal involving the circulation of nude photographs of high school girls.
Both men must register as sex offenders. The sentencings occurred nearly 3,000 miles apart and involved people of two distinctly different demographic groups, but together they offer sobering lessons of the same ilk:
First, sexual addiction is an equal-opportunity vice that cares not whether you're a VIP in the nation's capital and your wife is Hillary Clinton's senior aide, Huma Abedin, or whether you're a small-time punk who offers marijuana to the vulnerable in exchange for pornographic photos and videos.
In legal terms, Weiner was found guilty of "transferring obscene material to a minor." Less euphemistically, in May 2011, the father of a now-5-year-old sent photos of his penis to a woman who was following him on Twitter. He got caught and resigned as a congressman from New York. He then did it again, with a different recipient. And again. And again, once with his son in the photograph.
Settlemyer-Giughiano, according to Lane County Assistant District Attorney JoAnn Miller, was the mastermind behind creating an online collection of scores of photos featuring high school girls.
Second, justice is blind, at least in this case. Courts sometimes give lighter sentences to powerful people who serve in prestigious positions than are handed to obscure 18-year-olds. That didn't happen in Weiner's case. He's going to prison. Meanwhile, Settlemyer-Giughiano is going on probation, but will have the threat of what Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Rasmussen called a "big hammer over your head," should he mess up that probation.
Finally, apologies are one thing, actions are another. Both Weiner and Settlemyer-Giughiano said they were sorry. "I acted not only unlawfully but immorally, and if I had done the right thing, I would not be standing before you today," said Weiner. "I have learned what I did was wrong, and I will never do it again," said Settlemyer-Giughiano.
Wonderful. But talk is cheap. As Judge Denise L. Cote said about Weiner: "Despite two very public disclosures and the destruction of his career on two occasions, he continued with the activity."
Both need to prove their sincerity. Sexual addiction is a disease not easily overcome. In Weiner's case, he lost his position as a congressman, lost his wife (she filed for divorce in May) and lost his self respect. This was a man who'd won seven terms as a Democrat, never receiving less than 60 percent of the vote.
Now, the irony is he's really no different from Shea Settlemyer-Giughiano. He's just a small-time guy facing a tedious crawl back to the one thing he didn't give the women he wronged: respect.