The FBI has cleared Anchorage, Alaska, mayor Ethan Berkowitz (D) amid fallout from a years-long messaging affair with a news anchor, local news outlets report.
Berkowitz on Monday admitted to having a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with Maria Athens, a reporter for Your Alaska Link. In a statement shared with The Hill by his office, he apologized for his “major lapse in judgment,” and said he’s “embarrassed and ashamed for the hurt I’ve caused my family and our community.”
Athens took to Facebook on Friday to accuse Berkowitz of having his “male genitalia” posted on an underage girl’s website “according to reliable sources,” and claimed that several local news outlets would be reporting on the story.
Berkowitz’s office in a separate statement obtained by The Hill later described her allegations as “categorically false,” and said that they “appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell.”
Athens then posted a photo online of a man’s nude back and buttocks, claiming it was the mayor. The photo, as well as Athens's original video, is still posted online.
“A joint investigation into the recent allegations made by Ms. Athens was completed by the Anchorage Police Department and FBI and found no evidence of criminal conduct,” Berkowitz said in his statement on Monday. “It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you afford me the opportunity to do so.”
Shortly after the statement, the Anchorage Assembly released its own statement, saying it was “disappointed and disheartened by this news and 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.”
Meanwhile, Athens was arrested Friday for fourth-degree criminal assault, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct after police said they received a call about an altercation at the news station. She is reportedly out on bail.
--Updated at 11:48 a.m.