Berkowitz said in a statement released late Monday by his office, “I apologized to the people of Anchorage for a major lapse in judgment. I formed a consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship with reporter Maria Athens several years ago. ”
“I am ashamed and ashamed for hurting my family and my community. I take responsibility for my actions,” he said.
The acknowledgment comes at the end of three days that revolved around Alaska’s largest city, a period that denied both of his charges, which Athens made on Facebook and made his arrest.
It was not immediately clear whether the messages were included and how long it lasted. Berkowitz declined an interview with The Associated Press through a city spokesperson. A message sent to Athens on Facebook did not immediately return.
Anchor for the joint Fox / ABC station in Anchorage, posted a video on its Facebook page on Friday, the same day the station barred him from the studio. In the video, she claimed she would crack a story, which Berkowitz posted nude photos of on a website. She later also stated that what she said was a photo of the mayor’s naked back.
Berkwitz’s office immediately denied the baseless allegation, saying he spoke to the station manager, who is the boss of Athens. The release from the mayor’s office stated that his boss at the station also disrespected the story. Messages AP left for the station manager both Friday and Monday did not return immediately.
Later that day, Athens was arrested in a television studio after a trespass, after being told she could not return there. She allegedly blamed the station manager, who identified the documents as her boyfriend, and was arrested by police.
Athens was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and was released on bail on Monday.
Both Anchorage Police spokesman MJ Thiem and Berkowitz referred police and the FBI investigated Athens’ claims and found that there was no evidence of criminal conduct on Berkowitz’s behalf.
“It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you can give me an opportunity to do so. During the remaining months of his term, we will continue to work on those important issues,” Berkowitz said.
“We were made aware of the inappropriate and distasteful actions taken by our Mayor today,” Anchorage Assembly Chairman Felix Rivera and Vice Chairman Austin Quinn-Davidson said in a joint statement. “We are disappointed and disappointed with this news and extend our heartfelt support to the first lady, Dr. Mara Kimmel, and the rest of the mayor’s family, who we know are going through a very difficult time.”
Despite the revelation, he said, the assembly is “dedicated to continuing its important work.”
Berkowitz, 58, was elected to his second three-year term as mayor in 2018. The non-partisan position is limited to two words.
Berkowitz, a San Francisco native, is also a lawyer and anchorage businessman. He worked as a Democrat in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1997–2006. He served as a minority leader in the last two years.