Married Alaska mayor admits to inappropriate relationship with a local news anchor years ago just days after she posted a 'naked photo of him' and falsely accused him of sharing images of himself on an 'underage girls' website'
The married mayor of Anchorage in Alaska has apologized for having an 'inappropriate messaging relationship' with a local TV reporter just days after she made false allegations that he had shared images of his genitals on a website featuring underage girls and posted a naked photo online that she claimed was him.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, 58, on Monday admitted to having a consensual relationship with 41-year-old Anchorage TV reporterMaria Athens several years ago.
'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 said 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.'
It is not clear how long the relationship between Berkowitz and Athens lasted and what the messages involved.
Berkowitz has two children with his wife Mara Kimmel.
Hisacknowledgement of the relationship followed a bizarre several days that involved Athens making the false allegations against him,Berkowitz's denial of those claims and then her arrest for punching her TV station manager who she is also dating.
The ordeal started when Athens, the anchor forthe combined Fox/ABC station in Anchorage that operates as Your Alaska Link, first posted a video on her Facebook page on Friday.
周五，安克雷奇福克斯/ABC联合电视台(名为Your Alaska Link)的主播雅典首次在她的Facebook页面上发布了一段视频，这场磨难就开始了。
Athens claimed she would break a story that Berkowitz had posted nude photos of himself to a website that featured underage girls.The video appeared to be filmed by someone else on a cellphone inside the TV studio.
'Breaking news. According to reliable sources, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowtiz has his male genitalia posted on an underage girls website,' Athens said in the video.
She went on to say that national news outlet would cover the allegations, saying: 'You heard it here first'.
The story that Athens promised to break never aired.
Anchorage Police later said police and the FBI investigated Athens' claims but found there was no evidence of criminal conduct on Berkowitz's part.
After the video started circulating online, Berkowitz's office immediately denied the unsubstantiated allegations.
His officeissued a statement saying the 'slanderous allegations' were 'categorically false' and that they 'appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell.'
Athens then posted on Facebook a photo of what she claimed was the mayor's nude back side with the caption: 'Proof'.
She offered no context for the photo and it has not been confirmed if it is Berkowitz.
Hours after posting the video and photo, Athens was arrested at the TV studios on Friday afternoonafter getting into a physical altercation with her station manager Scott Centers.
According to court documents obtained by the Anchorage Daily News, Athens is in a romantic relationship with Centers.
Sheis accused of punching Centers and hitting him with her cellphone during an argument inside a car in the parking lot.
She allegedly then hit Centers again inside the TV studio, court documents say.
Police said that when she was taken into custody, Athens allegedly hit one of the officers in the chest and tried to kick the door of the police car.
She was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Athens was released on bail on Saturday.
CEO ofCoastal Television Bill Fielder distanced the network from Athens, saying the claims made by on her personal Facebook page aboutBerkowitz were never published by any of its news outlets.
Fielder said they had demanded Athens remove any mention or affiliation with the company in connection to the claims aboutBerkowitz.
The video and photo remained on Athens' Facebook page as of Tuesday.
Fielder would not confirm if Athens has been fired.
Police said they had stationed officers atBerkowitz's home over the weekend after a threat was made against him.
They would not confirm the nature of the threat.
Local news outlet the Anchorage Press on Monday obtained a voicemail they say Athens left for Berkowitz on Friday in which she threatened to kill him and made anti-Semitic remarks.
'Ethan, it's Maria Athens from Fox/NBC/CW/News Net National Alaska,' the woman in the recording says.
'I'm so f***ing exposing you. I'm gonna get an Emmy. So you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do. I will personally kill you and Mara Kimmel my god damn self, you Jewish piece of living f***ing s**t. You have met your match, motherf***er.
'I am such a good person and thought I loved you.'
It is not clear if that voicemail is the same threat mention by police.
In his statement acknowledging the relationship,Berkowitz said:'It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you afford me the opportunity to do so. During the remaining months of my term, I will continue working on the important issues we face.'
Berkowitz was elected to his second three-year term as mayor in 2018.The non-partisan position is limited to two terms.He is a native of San Francisco who is also a lawyer and Anchorage businessman.
He served as a Democrat in the Alaska House of Representative from 1997-2006. He served the last two years as minority leader.