Anchorage Mayor, Caught in 'Inappropriate Messaging Relationship' Scandal, Resigns
The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor announced his resignation on Tuesday following a series of claims made by a local television reporter with whom the mayor admitted to having had an "inappropriate" relationship.
The scandal began to unfold on Friday when Maria Athens, an anchor/reporter for Alaska television stations KTBY and KYUR, posted a video to her Facebook page alleging that Mayor Ethan Berkowitz had posted nude photos of himself on an "underaged girls website."
She added the hashtag #makethisgoviral.
Shortly after the video began to make its rounds, however, the Anchorage police department said it had investigated Athens' claims in conjunction with the FBI and found "no evidence of criminal conduct.”
The mayor's office also denied the allegations, issuing its own statement in which Athens was described as "hostile and unwell."
"The slanderous allegations from [Athens] are categorically false and appear to be the product of someone who is hostile and unwell," read the mayor's statement. "We spoke with Ms. Athens' employer, general manager Scott Centers, who emphatically disavowed his employee's comments."
Following the statement, Athens posted to Facebook what she alleged was a nude photo of Berkowitz's backside.
Subsequently, Athens was arrested at the television station and has since been released on bond, public records show.
Anchorage police confirm to PEOPLE she was charged with fourth-degree assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in connection with a altercation with an adult male in the parking lot. Local outlets, citing charging documents, report the confirmation was with Centers, whom the documents identify as Athens' boyfriend.
It was not clear if Athens has entered a plea or retained an attorney to comment on her behalf.
On Tuesday, the mayor again addressed the controversy, this time saying that the two had a "consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship." He said he he would resign from his position as a result.
"It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage," Berkowitz's statement reads. "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," Berkowitz said. "To make this transition as smooth as possible, my resignation will be effective Friday, October 23 at 6:00 p.m."
Berkowitz, a Democrat, previously served in the Alaska House of Representative from 1997 to 2006.