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Anchorage mayor steps down amid scrutiny over relationship with TV journalist

Anchorage mayor steps down amid scrutiny over relationship with TV journalist
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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz (D) stepped down Tuesday as he grapples with the fallout from a years-long messaging affair with a local news anchor. 

The resignation, which will be effective Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. local time, comes after he admitted to a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with Maria Athens, a reporter for Your Alaska Link, which he called a “major lapse in judgement.”

“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage. 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,” he said in a statement.

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Athens first accused Berkowitz Friday of having posted a picture of his “male genitalia” on an underage girl’s website and then put up a picture of a man’s nude back and buttocks, saying it was Berkowitz.  

The mayor’s office initially rejected her claims as “categorically false” and said that they “appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell.” 

But he later admitted that the FBI had opened a probe into his conduct, and while he said the agency found no criminal wrongdoing, he recognized his relationship with Athens had opened up a trust gap with his constituents.

“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 Monday. “It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you afford me the opportunity to do so.” 

Athens was arrested last week for fourth-degree criminal assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after what police said was an altercation at the news station where she worked.