SF Sheriff Pleads Not Guilty To Domestic Violence

By Salon Staff

Published January 20, 2012 1:00AM (EST)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's new sheriff pleaded not guilty Thursday to domestic violence and other charges stemming from allegations that he mistreated his wife in front of their toddler son and told her not to tell anybody about it.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's lawyer Robert Waggener, entered the not guilty pleas at Mirkarimi's arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court.

Besides the domestic violence charge, prosecutors have also charged the 50-year-old sheriff with child endangerment and dissuading a witness. The three misdemeanor charges come after a New Year's Eve incident with his wife, Eliana Lopez, at their home.

During Thursday's proceeding, Superior Court Judge Susan Breall issued an order that requires Mirkarimi to have no contact with his wife or child.

Lopez has denounced the charges against her husband.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit released Tuesday, Mirkarimi is alleged to have mistreated his wife on two separate occasions last year and to have told her he was a "very powerful" man who could take away their son.

Lopez appeared on a Jan. 1 videotape candidly discussing the Dec. 31 confrontation and another incident earlier last year, according to the affidavit.

The footage was shot by a neighbor, Ivory Madison, whose call to police prompted an investigation. Lopez is crying and visibly upset about the couple's run-in the day before, the affidavit said, and she points to a bruise on her right bicep where she said Mirkarimi grabbed her.

"This happened yesterday," Lopez tells the camera. "Two times in 2011, and this is the second time this is happening."

Madison eventually told police investigators what Lopez had relayed to her but would not surrender the videotape. Police obtained it and other evidence through a search warrant.

Investigators from the district attorney's office later found another neighbor who gave an account similar to Madison's and said Lopez described Mirkarimi as "going ballistic." The neighbor also said the couple's son told his mother, "Daddy made boo-boo on Mommy's arm."

Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star, married Mirkarimi after having their first child in 2009. On Wednesday, Lopez told a Venezuelan radio station that Mirkarimi did not abuse her and he is a victim of "very dirty politics."

Meanwhile, several domestic violence groups have called for Mirkarimi to either step aside temporarily until the case is closed or resign.

Mirkarimi, who was sworn in as sheriff nearly two weeks ago after serving two terms as a San Francisco supervisor, said he has no intention of leaving his new post.

Salon Staff

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