Detroit – Mayor Mike Duggan's wife has filed for divorce.

The presentation of Mary Loretto Maher on Friday at the Wayne County Circuit Court occurs almost six months after the couple defended their marriage in response to the mayor's challenge made publicly by his ties to a local doctor.

In a joint statement, Duggan, 60, and Maher, 62, wrote "this painful decision was not taken lightly" and asked the public to respect their privacy.

"Life is a journey with many twists and turns," the statement said. "Today, a new chapter begins for the two of us, we have decided to divorce."

The mayor's and city's relationships with a non-profit organization are at the center of an independent investigation into a possible abuse of authority over whether preferential treatment was granted to Make Your Date, which is dedicated to preventing premature births .

Duggan's relationship with Dr. Sonia Hassan, who directs the program, has been publicly questioned in recent months.

When the mayor was asked, he repeatedly refused to discuss it and said "I will never talk about my personal life".

In Friday's statement, Duggan and Maher said that "they have had many serious discussions, they have sought guidance, but in the end, they feel that this is the best decision for both of them."

"We may soon not be a married couple, but we keep in close contact and, above all, we are parents," they said. "We will always protect ourselves and be present in the lives of our children and grandchildren."

The couple concluded by saying "we will not comment" beyond the statement.

"We will continue to support each other, our family and the citizens of Detroit," the statement said.

A divorce settlement conference for Duggan and Maher is scheduled for August 2.

Alexis Wiley, Duggan's chief of staff, said Duggan will continue to live at the Manoogian Mansion, the official residence of the mayor's office in the city.

Last month, the Office of the Inspector General of Detroit launched a review of the mayor's and city's relationship with the program run by Hassan, which is run by Wayne State University.

The investigation came after Detroit Free Press reported that the program received $ 358,000 in municipal subsidies and benefited from a fundraising campaign that a city official led at the mayor's request.

The mayor has promised "100 percent" cooperation with the investigation and said the claims are "completely false."

The mayor has said that the city never put a penny in a nonprofit organization. The association, he said, went to the university directly.

Duggan's statement came despite an email reviewed by The Detroit News of Wiley in 2017 to Hassan, who is affiliated with Wayne State University.

"Dr. Hassan, I would like to introduce you to Ryan Friedrichs, he is our development director, and the Mayor has assigned you the task of launching a large-scale fundraising effort to make your appointment – you will be in touch soon!"

The representatives of the university have reiterated Duggan's position, that the program has been handled by Wayne State from the beginning. The 501 (c) (3), according to the university, was never activated and never received or spent a penny.

Wayne State has said that Hassan is a volunteer in her effort to lead the program and that it was initiated based on research conducted at the Perinatal Research Branch of the National Institutes of Health in Wayne State and at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit. Medical Center in which Hassan played a prominent role.

Businessman Robert Carmack, who faces felony charges over a dispute over city land and is in a public dispute with Duggan, has accused the mayor of bribery and infidelity with airplanes and videos.

Carmack hired a private investigator last summer to track down the mayor and capture his comings and goings, including visits to a Novi condominium.

The images, shown on a billboard truck outside the City Hall, also captured a woman visiting the same place.

The incident prompted the mayor and his wife to defend their marriage in November and also led Duggan to convene a press conference to announce to the media that he had asked the Michigan State Police to review Carmack's actions, allegedly in retaliation. Because of the city's refusal to abandon property claims against him – it amounted to extortion.

On Thursday, the Wayne County Elections Commission approved the language of a recall petition to Duggan about the investigation into whether the non-profit organization was granted a favor and its alleged relationship with Hassan.

cferretti@detroitnews.com

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