SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The wife of suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has submitted a written declaration defending her husband as he prepares to testify Thursday in an administrative hearing on whether he can keep his job.
Mirkarimi was suspended by Mayor Ed Lee in March on official misconduct charges after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment in connection with a Dec. 31 argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, in which he grabbed and bruised her arm.
Lopez’s declaration, submitted Tuesday, criticizes her neighbor, Ivory Madison, who reported the incident to police after Lopez told her about it the following day.
She acknowledged that Mirkarimi grabbed her arm during the argument, but said that was the extent of any violence against her.
Lopez, who has since gone back to her native Venezuela with the couple’s young son Theo to care for her ill father, was one of the witnesses who was asked to submit written declarations in the case. Lopez’s attorney has said her client would be willing to appear in person before the ethics commission, but the attorney said the commission should pay her travel expenses.
“Ross has never hit me, punched me, battered me, or beat me,” she wrote. “We have argued about money, as many couples do. Ross and I have struggled in our relationship. However, Ross has consistently tried to be a better and better parent to Theo and loving and supportive to me.”
In her statement, Lopez wrote that Madison claimed to be an attorney and she thought her discussions with her were protected under attorney-client privilege. However, while Madison graduated from law school, she never passed the bar exam and was not licensed to practice law.
Lopez wrote that on Jan. 4, when she met with Madison again, Madison was insistent that Lopez report the incident with Mirkarimi to police.
“I told Ivory that I could not call the police and destroy Ross. Ivory ignored me,” she wrote.
Lopez wrote that in Madison’s attempts to convince her to call the police, she “disclosed many intimate facts about her friends and acquaintances … those facts are salacious and invasive to their privacy, and I will not act in the way that she does.”
She wrote that she “felt betrayed” after learning that Madison reported the incident to police later on Jan. 4.
Mirkarimi is defending himself against the misconduct charges before the city’s Ethics Commission, which under the city charter must hold hearings and collect evidence, then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on whether to remove him from office or reinstate him as sheriff.
Mirkarimi is scheduled to testify before the Ethics Commission at a hearing at City Hall on Thursday evening. On Friday, Mayor Lee is expected to testify.
The mayor, via the city attorney’s office, has argued that Mirkarimi’s conviction, for which he was sentenced to three years’ probation and other penalties, prevents him from adequately serving as sheriff and falls below the standard of decency expected of an elected official.
To be removed from office, nine of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors would have to approve the move. Mirkarimi served as a supervisor for seven years before being elected sheriff in November.
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