Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York said today he has engaged in "several inappropriate" electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to a college student in Seattle over a week ago.
"I take full responsibility for my actions," Weiner said. "The picture was of me, and I sent it."
The announcement came as ABC News prepared to release an interview with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cell phone call logs that she says chronicle a sexually-charged electronic relationship with Weiner that rapidly-evolved for more than a month, starting on April 20, 2011.
ABC News reached out to Weiner earlier today for comment about his possible ties to Broussard, but he did not respond to requests for an interview. At a press conference later, Weiner confirmed Broussard was one of the women with whom he sexted.
Broussard's story had threatened to expose the secret online life of one of the House Democrats' most popular members, and a man many considered a leading candidate for mayor of New York City.
It also raised new questions about Weiner's explanation for how a photo of a man's groin area ended up on his public Twitter feed on May 27. Today the congressman said he accidentally sent the image to a woman, Gennette Cordova, who was following him on Twitter, as a joke.
"I just chuckled," Broussard, a nursing student, said of her reaction to Weiner's initial response to the Twitter incident. "It would be one thing if he came out and said, 'Hey, so what?' But now he's saying he got hacked?"
Broussard said she received the same photo of a man's crotch on May 18 in an email from a man who she then believed was Weiner.
Weiner told ABC News last week that the Twitter incident was a "prank" on him, but he neither confirmed nor denied at the time that the photo depicted his body. "I am reluctant to say anything definitively about this," he said of the photo.
Broussard, who describes herself as disinterested in politics and previously unaware of Weiner, said that she has never met the congressman in person and doesn't "think he's a bad guy." And, she said, she participated in risque online chats -- as she has done with other men online -- with the man she presumed to be Weiner.
During one flirtatious Facebook chat last month, Broussard said, she issued the man on the other end a challenge.
"I asked him to take a picture and write 'me' on it so I would know," Broussard said in an interview.
The reply, she says, came moments later. Email records provided to ABC News by Broussard show that at 3:08 p.m. on May 5th she received a message from firstname.lastname@example.org, which is listed as an email address for Weiner on one campaign document found online.
The message included an image of a man, who appears to be Weiner, sporting a tie and a wedding band, holding up the message "me" on a piece of white paper.
"I didn't think it was him," she says. "I thought for sure, 'why would someone in that position be doing this?'"
Broussard said she wanted to come forward now out of concerns for her own image as an aspiring nurse, and that of her 3-year-old daughter, should her identity be leaked online. More than a dozen photos sent by Broussard to email@example.com and a second account she believed was Weiner's were obtained and licensed from her by ABC News.
"I have my own life, my own things where I'm from and I just wanted to go ahead with them. I thought I could just be private about it, but there's no reason for me to hide," she said. "I didn't do anything wrong. I don't know him. I'm just putting my story out there before anyone else tries to."
Broussard said she confided about her experiences with several close friends, including one with Republican political ties. The man, whom she declined to identify, encouraged her to share her story with Matt Drudge and conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Breitbart, who first published details of Broussard's story on Biggovernment.com, shared her identity with ABC News.