Anchorage mayor admits to inappropriate relationship
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz admitted Monday he had an inappropriate relationship with a reporter three days after she made online allegations against the married official.
"I apologize to the people of Anchorage for a grave judgment error I made several years ago when I had a consensual, inappropriate news relationship with reporter Maria Athens," Berkowitz said in a statement his office late said Published Monday afternoon.
"I am ashamed of the injuries I have inflicted on my family and our community. I take responsibility for my actions," he said.
Confirmation comes at the end of three days that struck Alaska's largest city. During that time, he denied both Athens' Facebook allegations and her arrest.
It wasn't immediately clear what the messages were and how long they lasted. Berkowitz declined an interview with The Associated Press through a city spokesman. A message sent to Athens on Facebook was not returned immediately.
Athens, the anchor for the combined Fox / ABC station in Anchorage, posted a video on their Facebook page on Friday, the day the station banned them from the studio. In the video, she claimed she was breaking a story that Berkowitz posted nude photos on a website. She later also posted a photo of the mayor's naked back.
Berkowitz's office immediately denied the unsubstantiated allegation, saying they spoke to the station manager who is Athens' chief. The discharge from the mayor's office said her boss at the train station also disapproved of the story. Messages that AP left for the station manager on both Friday and Monday were not returned immediately.
Later that day, Athens was arrested after being entered in the television studio after being told she could not return there. She allegedly spoke to the station manager who identifies documents as her friend and was arrested by the police.
Athens was charged with criminal calamity and disorderly conduct and was released on bail on Monday.
Both Anchorage Police Spokespersons MJ Thim and Berkowitz found that the police and the FBI were investigating the Athens allegations and found that there was no evidence of any criminal conduct by Berkowitz.
“It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you will give me the opportunity. In the remaining months of my tenure, I will continue to work on the important issues we face, ”said Berkowitz.
"We have been notified of inappropriate and uncomfortable actions by our Mayor today," said Felix Rivera, chairman of the Anchorage Congregation, and Austin Quinn-Davidson, vice chairman, in a joint statement. "We are disappointed and discouraged by this news and we send our heartfelt support to First Lady Dr. Mara Kimmel and the rest of the Mayor's family who we know are going through a very difficult time."
Despite the disclosure, she said, the congregation remains "determined to continue its important work".
The 58-year-old Berkowitz was elected mayor in his second term of three years in 2018. The non-partisan position is limited to two terms.
Originally from San Francisco, Berkowitz is a lawyer and businessman in Anchorage. From 1997 to 2006 he was a Democrat in the Alaska House of Representatives. He has served as a minority leader for the past two years.
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