ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, one of Alaska’s most prominent Democrats, resigned on Tuesday, days after he was accused of texting sexual messages to an underage girl and a local television anchor.
Berkowitz, a former state lawmaker elected as Anchorage mayor in 2015, has denied texting the underage girl but acknowledged having a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with FOX/ABC journalist Maria Athens.
“My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required,” the mayor said in written statement announcing his resignation.
“I know that 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.
The unfolding scandal surrounding Berkowitz began when Athens accused Berkowitz, 58, of sending sexual messages and images to at least one underage girl. Athens, 41, included a photo that she said showed was Berkowitz’s bare back, with part of his buttocks exposed.
Athens never broadcast her story; she was arrested Friday after getting into an altercation outside of her place of work.
Berkowitz on Friday denied the accusations of sending sexual messages to minors, calling Athens “unwell.” On Monday, he admitted that he and Athens had a “major lapse in judgment” years earlier and had engaged in a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship.”
Berkowitz’s last day in office will be Oct. 23, according to the resignation message. According to municipal rules, the chairman of the Anchorage Assembly will take over as interim mayor until a new mayor is chosen in the city’s regularly scheduled election next April.
Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Gerry Doyle
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