Anchorage, Alaska, mayor resigns over sex scandal: 'I am deeply sorry'

A local television anchor had posted allegations against the mayor on social media Friday, plus a nude photo that she claimed showed the mayor's backside. 

Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned Tuesday, a day after apologizing for what he described as a "consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship," with a local television anchor.

Berkowitz, 58, who is married, announced his resignation in a statement read by his chief of staff during a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly. The Democrat will remain mayor until Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.

“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage," the statement said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. "My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required."

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Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz addresses the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (Associated Press)

Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz addresses the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (Associated Press)

"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," the statement continued.

A crowd gathered at the meeting erupted into cheers after the announcement was read, until Assembly Chair Felix Rivera called for them to stop.

“There is a God,” one man yelled.

Berkowitz, 58, on Monday admitted to having the relationship with Maria Athens, who was the anchor/reporter for television stations KTBY and KYUR which operate jointly as Your Alaska Link.

“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 wrote 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.”

Athens, 41, had posted allegations against Berkowitz on social media Friday, plus a nude photo that she claimed showed the mayor's backside. 

She was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct later in the day after police said they received a call about an altercation at the news station, the paper reported.

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Berkowitz’s office in a separate statement declared her allegations as false.

“The slanderous allegations from Your Alaska Link reporter Maria Athens are categorically false and appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell. We spoke with Ms. Athens' employer, general manager Scott Centers, who emphatically disavowed his employee’s comments," the statement said.

Local and federal authorities have since investigated and found no evidence of illegal activity on Berkowitz.

The Assembly chair will take over as acting mayor following the mayor's resignation, Rivera said, according to the city's charter. 

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Assemblywoman Jamie Allard made a motion to reorganize the Assembly and choose a new chair before the mayor’s resignation takes effect, but the motion failed 8-3, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report