Alaska mayor admits to ‘inappropriate relationship’ with news anchor reporting an exposé on him

An FBI investigation found no evidence of criminal conduct from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz

Madeline Roth
Tuesday 13 October 2020 20:49 BST
Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz has apologized for a years-old “inappropriate” relationship with a local news anchor who made bizarre allegations against him.
Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz has apologized for a years-old “inappropriate” relationship with a local news anchor who made bizarre allegations against him. (AFP via Getty Images)
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The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska has apologized for what he called a "consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship" with a local TV news anchor.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, 58, wrote in a statement Monday, "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. I'm embarrassed and ashamed for the hurt I've caused my family and our community. I take responsibility for my actions."

Mr Berkowitz's apology came after Ms Athens, 41, lodged a series of unsubstantiated allegations against him. Last Friday, Ms Athens posted a video to her professional Facebook page alleging that Mr Berkowitz, who is married, posted an illicit photo of himself to "an underage girls website." She claimed the accusations stemmed from "reliable sources" and said several local news outlets would be reporting on the story.

That afternoon, Mr Berkowitz issued a statement in which he called the claims "slanderous" and "categorically false." He said the allegations "appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell." The news station Ms Athens worked for also rejected her claims.

Shortly after the mayor's statement was issued, Ms Athens retaliated by posting an unsourced nude photo of a man's backside, which she claimed was Mr Berkowitz.

A subsequent investigation by Anchorage police and the FBI into Ms Athens' allegations found "no evidence of criminal conduct," according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Meanwhile, Ms Athens was arrested at work on Friday for punching the station manager, whom she was also romantically involved with, according to court documents cited by the Anchorage Daily News.

Ms Athens was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct. She is reportedly out on bail.

In his statement Monday, Mr Berkowitz, who is in his last term as mayor and not up for reelection, vowed to do better by his constituents.

“It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you afford me the opportunity to do so,” he said. "During the remaining months of my term, I will continue working on the important issues we face. Please consider my family's privacy during this difficult time."

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