WASHINGTON -- Under pressure to resign in a sexting scandal, Rep. Anthony Weiner announced Saturday he was entering professional treatment at an undisclosed location and requested a leave of absence from Congress.
An aide for the embattled New York lawmaker made the disclosure in a statement shortly after several Democratic party leaders demanded he quit for exchanging messages and photos ranging from sexually suggestive to explicit with several women online.
"This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, said in a written statement calling for the 46-year-old married lawmaker to step down.
The House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, said Weiner "has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress."
The developments occurred one day after Weiner acknowledged he had exchanged online messages with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware. He said nothing improper had passed between the two of them.
Democrats said the concerted call for a resignation had been brewing for days, as senior party officials concluded the scandal was interfering with their attempts to gain political momentum in advance of the 2012 elections.
"We had decided we were not going to have one more week of Anthony Weinergate," said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.