Arrested anchorwoman’s accusations prompt confession from Anchorage mayor

By MARK THIESSEN Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Allegations made by a TV anchorwoman shortly before her arrest have prompted Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to admit having an inappropriate relationship with her.

FILE – Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, 2016. (AP Photos/Mark Thiessen, File) “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 said in a statement released by his office late Monday afternoon.

“I’m embarrassed and ashamed for the hurt I’ve caused my family and our community. I take responsibility for my actions,” he said.

Berkowitz, 58, has been married for 19 years to Mara Kimmel, a political science professor. They have two children.

The acknowledgement comes at the end of a chaotic three days in which Athens made volatile accusations on Facebook and then was arrested in the studio of the Fox/ABC station for which she works.

It was not immediately clear what the “messaging relationship” between Berkowitz and Athens involved and how long it lasted.

On Friday, Athens posted a video on her Facebook page in which she claimed she would break a story that Berkowitz posted nude photos to a website. She later posted what she said was a photo of the mayor’s bare back side.

Berkowitz’s office immediately denied the unsubstantiated allegation, and said they talked to the station manager, who is Athens’ boss. The manager disavowed the story, the mayor’s staff said, and Athens was barred from the studio.

The mayor’s staff called her Facebook post “the product of someone who is hostile and unwell.”

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Later Friday, Athens went to the studio and accosted the station manager, whom charging documents identify as her boyfriend. She was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and was released on bail Monday.

Berkowitz and Anchorage police spokesperson MJ Thim said the police and the FBI investigated Athens’ claims and found there was no evidence of criminal conduct on Berkowitz’s part.

The political news website Alaska Landmine posted what it said was a voicemail Friday from Athens to Berkowitz in which she used anti-semitic slurs and threatened to kill him and his wife.

In his statement Monday, Berkowitz said: “It takes time to rebuild trust and I hope you afford me the opportunity to do so. During the remaining months of my term, I will continue working on the important issues we face.”

“We were informed today of improper and distasteful actions taken by our mayor,” Anchorage Assembly Chairman Felix Rivera and vice chairman Austin Quinn-Davidson said in a joint statement. “We are disappointed and disheartened by this news and send our heartfelt support to first lady Dr. Mara Kimmel and the rest of the mayor’s family, who we know are going through a very difficult time.”

Berkowitz was elected to his second three-year term as mayor in 2018. The non-partisan position is limited to two terms.

Berkowitz, a native of San Francisco, is also a lawyer and Anchorage businessman. He served as a Democrat in the Alaska House …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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