The Democratic mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, has stepped down after admitting to a messaging affair with a local news anchor who then accused him of pedophilia and shared a nude photo that she claimed showed the mayor’s backside.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned Tuesday after apologizing for what he described as a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship,” with a local television anchor.
Berkowitz, who is married, announced his resignation in a statement read by his chief of staff during a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly, the New York Times reported.
“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage,” the statement said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required.”
“I know my conduct has done great injury to my family, my staff, to Municipal employees, and to the people of our community, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” the statement continued.
Berkowitz admitted to having the relationship with Maria Athens, who was the anchor/reporter for television stations KTBY and KYUR, which operate jointly as Your Alaska Link.
“I apologize to the people of Anchorage for a major lapse in judgment I made several years ago when I had a consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship with reporter Maria Athens,” Berkowitz wrote in a statement. “I’m embarrassed and ashamed for the hurt I’ve caused my family and our community. I take responsibility for my actions.”
The story gets even wilder.
The saga started when Athens posted a video on her Facebook page Friday, the same day the station barred her from the studio.
In the video, she claimed she would break a story that night claiming Berkowitz posted nude photos to an underage website. She later also posted what she said was a photo of the mayor’s nude backside.
Before Athens posted her video online, the mayor’s office said, she had left a voice message for him.
In a copy of that message provided by the office, the New York Times reports that Athens can be heard in a “furious rant making anti-Semitic references and saying that she would be exposing the mayor as ‘a pedophile.'”
“I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Athens allegedly said in the audio clip.
She then said she would personally kill him and his wife.
She was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct later in the day after police said they received a call about an altercation at the news station, the paper reported.
Berkowitz’s office in a separate statement declared her allegations as false.
“The slanderous allegations from Your Alaska Link reporter Maria Athens are categorically false and appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell. We spoke with Ms. Athens’ employer, general manager Scott Centers, who emphatically disavowed his employee’s comments,” the statement said.
Berkowitz’s office immediately denied the unsubstantiated allegation. A day later, Anchorage police said they and the FBI investigated and found no evidence of criminal conduct, CBS News reported.
Anchorage, Alaska Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigns over what he calls ‘unacceptable personal conduct’ https://t.co/vq8Y8DnIgk
— Sheryl Kahn (@sherylkahn) October 15, 2020
— unrelentingHumanity (@LTPthatsme) October 14, 2020