A married New York congressman accused of sending a shirtless photo of him and flirty messages to a woman has abruptly resigned from his seat on Wednesday.

The Republican candidate Christopher Lee resigned after a gossip magazine Gawker posted a picture - a photograph of him, flexing in a mirror, and said he had sent it to an unidentified 34-year old woman.

Christopher Lee had sent it in response to her appeal in the Women for Men section of personals on the popular classifieds website Craigslist, in which she invited men financially and emotionally secure to prove to me not all CL (Craigslist) men look like toads, the Gawker magazine reported.

I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents, Lee said in a statement posted on his congressional website. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness, Lee said in an e-mailed statement after his resignation.

The challenges we face in western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately, Lee added.

Christopher Lee is married with a son.