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San Francisco sheriff vows to fight domestic violence, other charges

January 14, 2012 |  8:12 am

Ross Mirkarimi, Eliana Lopez

San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is vowing to remain in office and fight charges of misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness related to an apparent New Year's Eve fight with his wife.

"We must allow the system and its investigation to proceed accordingly," said Mirkarimi, who was sworn into office five days ago. "We believe that these charges are very unfounded."

Mirkarimi said he was "confident that in the end we will succeed in showing the missteps" of the investigation. Asked if he would step aside while the case proceeds, he said he has "no intention of leaving.… We'll prove that we are right."

His wife, former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez, stood by her husband.

"As I've said before, I don't have any complaint against my husband," Lopez said. "We are together and we are fine. We are going to fight this. This is my family, my husband and my son.… This is completely wrong."

In announcing the charges against Mirkarimi, 50 — a former county supervisor who is now one of the highest-ranking law enforcement officers in San Francisco — Dist. Atty. George Gascon said police are investigating the possibility that Mirkarimi may have been involved in earlier incidents of spousal abuse.

Gascon also said that a judge was signing an emergency protective order that would bar Mirkarimi from his home and prohibit any contact between him and his wife, and their toddler son, Theo.

The order also would require Mirkarimi to give up all his firearms within 24 hours. Gascon said that he is "not aware of any" other sheriff in California who cannot carry a gun.

"While this case involves a high-profile elected official, we are treating this case as we would any of the hundreds of domestic violence cases we review and charge each year," Gascon said. "While I do not relish having to bring charges against a San Francisco elected official … it is my solemn duty to bring criminal charges when the evidence supports such action."

About the same time Gascon announced the charges at a packed news conference, Mirkarimi and Lopez held their own briefing at his City Hall office, where he vowed to fight the charges.

The incident came to light after Lopez confided to a neighbor about a New Year's Eve fight with Mirkarimi. The neighbor, Ivory Madison, photographed and videotaped a bruise on Lopez's arm, texted with Lopez about the incident and later called police.


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Photo: San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, leave City Hall in San Francisco. The newly sworn-in sheriff has been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after an alleged New Year's Eve fight with Lopez. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press