By Eric Russell

Embattled Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard resigned on Friday but not before blaming the media for his troubles.

In a brief press conference Friday morning, Bouchard announced that he was stepping down immediately in the face of accusations that a woman with whom he allegedly was having an affair shared with him internal emails from his opponent, Ben Chin.

The woman first made the accusations at a Lewiston City Council meeting and then in an interview with the Sun Journal.

Heather Everly Berube has since also made public text messages between her and Bouchard that included racist and sexist jokes.

Bouchard, in prepared remarks, cast himself as the victim.

"Several allegations have arisen in the last few days," he said. "Some of them are very personal. It has become clear to me that the media does not acknowledge personal space and reports on nothing more than rumor in many cases. In this political climate where the media does not discriminate between fact and rumors, it is hard to be a public figure."

Bouchard announced that city councilor Kristin Cloutier would take over as mayor. He said he would work with her to "make this transition as smooth as possible."

Bouchard also said he looked forward to being cleared of all accusations.

The Republican was elected in a contentious race between him and Chin. Late in the campaign, the Maine Examiner -- a website create by Maine Republican Party director Jason Savage -- published internal emails from Chin's campaign, including one in which Chin said that he'd encountered "a bunch of racists" while campaigning.

Although Bouchard acknowledged that he accepted Chin campaign emails from Berube, he denied sharing them with Savage.

Savage also denied that he received the emails from Bouchard.

(c)2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)