Eliana Lopez is a victim, but of whom?

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Lopez expresses an understandable, if inadvertent, sentiment on the witness stand.
Mike Koozmin

It's been an eventful visit to San Francisco this week for Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, who spent the last two evenings on the witness stand testifying before the Ethics Commission as it considers removing her husband, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, from office for official misconduct for grabbing her arm on Dec. 31. And then today in court, she helped persuade Judge Garrett Wong to lift the stay-away order that has barred the couple from having any contact with each other since January, allowing this battle-weary couple to finally share an much-needed embrace.

Lopez didn't want any of this – not the police and prosecutors going after her husband and getting an order to keep her family apart, not Mayor Ed Lee suspending Mirkarimi and taking away the salary the family needed now more than ever (compounding his failure to ask Lopez what really happened by refusing to allow the city to pay for her plane fare back from Venezuela, where she's been staying with family and looking for acting jobs, to testify in his proceedings), not the hypocritical statements of concern that she's been victimized, made by people who she considers to be the real abusers of her and her family.

Her perspective on this whole sordid affair became crystal clear while spending more than three hours on the stand being grilled by Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith and the commissioners, where she said that she's never been scared of Mirkarimi but that San Francisco has become a scary place to her after being betrayed and victimized by the people entrusted to help her.

“At this point, I think he's safer in Venezuela than San Francisco,” Lopez said of her three-year-old son when Keith condescendingly asked about how he's doing in her home country. Keith's belittling tone toward this supposed crime victim prompted Mirkarimi attorney Shepherd Kopp to tell reporters, “The questioning of Ms. Lopez, so far, I think is just offensive.”

Clearly, some of Lopez's decisions helped create this mess. She said on the stand that she regrets telling her neighbors Callie Williams and Ivory Madison what happened on Dec. 31, even if she believes they should have kept her confidence as they promised. And there are good legal reasons why domestic violence victims shouldn't be able to stop the prosecutions of their abusers, who they may still be scared to offend.

But none of that excuses the complete disregard for Lopez, her perspective, and her interests that has been shown by San Francisco's law enforcement, political, and domestic violence advocacy communities – a point that Mirkarimi supporters have repeatedly made throughout the proceedings, emphasizing that they believe and support Lopez.

“I didn't expect that my lawyer could call the police on her own,” Lopez said of Madison, whom she said had represented herself as a legal adviser who was helping her create evidence for a child custody case if her marital problems ended in divorce. “I thought that was my decision.”

Once Madison took a more aggressive posture in urging Lopez to go the police, including “calling Ross's political enemies” to help her bring him down, Lopez testified, “I realized that I couldn't trust her.” But it was too late. As soon as Lopez clearly said that she didn't want police involvement, that was when Madison called them.

“I told her, 'you don't have my permission to do this. I trusted you,'” Lopez said she told Madison after being told the police were on the way, sending Lopez into a panic. “When I left Ivory Madison's house, I was so shaking I couldn't find my car...I was feeling betrayed and I was so angry.”

Toward the end of her testimony, she said, “After Ivory Madison called the police, I felt betrayed, I felt like I had betrayed Ross.”

Anyone who knows Lopez or watched her on the stand understands that this is a strong woman who is used to taking care of herself, not a shattered domestic violence victim incapable of acting on her own behalf.

“I said we have to think, Ross, we have to do something,” Lopez testified, explaining her reaction to the police involvement and her text message to “use your power” to do something, which Mirkarimi replied to by saying there was nothing he could do at that point, despite unproven accusations that he tried to dissuade witnesses and thwart the investigation. “It was me who was pushing him.”

Even after the controversy went public and threatened his career, Lopez said it her who told him not to resign and to fight for his job. “I told him, 'you won the election, stay strong, we can win this,” she testified.

Nobody wants to minimize domestic violence, but let's keep some perspective on what happened here. Lee may or may not really believe that Mirkarimi “beats his wife,” as he told reporters in justifying his overreaction, but the evidence that has emerged doesn't dispute the consistent contention by Mirkarimi and Lopez that he grabbed her arm one time, for one moment, and that was the full extend of the abuse.

“I bruise really easily,” Lopez testified. “Just Theo playing with me, I get bruised.”

Some people do. And while that doesn't excuse what Mirkarimi did – getting physical with a partner is never okay, as he said on the stand, accepting his fate – it does indicate that perhaps Mirkarimi's critics have lost their perspective, sense of proportion, and realization that domestic violence laws are supposed to be about helping and protecting the victim.

Does anyone even want to try to make an argument that's what's happened in this case?

Comments

who dared to raise significant questions about Phil Bronstein's friend, Ivory Madison,is now allowing a post on their site which gives the flight number and specifics of Eliana's return home. This is a fact which could endanger her. No wonder she feels terrified to be here. Shame on the Chronicle once again for promoting this attempted political lynching . Are they really still that whipped by Phil Bronstein and his bullying?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

Yes, a post about her flight number could endanger her from who? Ross? The Pope? One of the villains from her telenovas?

No one has threatened her, except her husband. And, she is not in danger from the media.

Do you even realize how crazy you sound? And how can Eliana be politically "lynched" when she is not even an elected official?

Once again, it is a hot time in crazy town tonight.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

Your head is so far up Ross and Eliana's ass that you've lost perspective - the airport is actually a pretty safe place these days. You do realize they have security and everything now?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

And yes, I noticed that the banning policy took a distinctly political turn with regard to the artificial controversy which resulted in the overturning of the election result they didn't like.

Screw the Chronicle.

And yes Troll and Chris you contemptible dummies, publicizing the flight number could potentially endanger Eliana *in* *Venezuela*; but of course you don't -- and never did -- care about anything but advancing your pathetic political agendas,

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

Then why is she going back? That really doesn't make any sense at all.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

The real problem is not the airport, but before she gets there. I think you realized this when you posted your sarcastic comment about the airport. I don't think you're quite that dense.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

Yes I'm sure, some establishment hit man will on orders from Ed Lee and the Bilderbergs will get Lopez at the airport or perhaps on the set of a soap opera.

There must be a run on tin foil at your local safeway?

Posted by matlock on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 4:49 am

Why don't you trolls post your names and all your personal information about your comings and goings from your house all over the internet?

Funny how the same people who think it's A-Ok to do this to others, insist on zealously guarding their own anonimity.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 6:38 am

Greg, fine, there you go. I have also used my real name, there is no "zealous" guarding of my anonymity. There is no boogie man after me, so I am not afraid to do so.

Again, who do you think is going to harm Eliana? How is giving her flight information compromising her security? Instead of arguing with people and calling them "trolls" (because you have no logical response to give to the substance of their comments), state clearly exactly who would harm her? How would some person get through airport security and track her down in an airport full of thousands of people, including armed police officers, and somehow hurt her?

What exactly is the threat to her physical safety? Now, I hear crickets....

You are just hysterical and being melodramatic. You are also full of stupid conspiracy theories.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:13 am

She's an actress, remember?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

And you think it's okay to post the whereabouts a woman who has received more media scrutiny than the pope. Has the news from Aurora sunk in yet?

Posted by Aurelie on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

Shame on you for defaming the memory of the victims in Colorado by using them to further your political agenda. Also, the news from Aurora has ZERO to do with Eliana.

The shooter did not know anyone in the theater and had no knowledge of any of there personal information. He just planned to shoot people in a theater and went and did it.

Eliana is in ZERO danger. Or, if you think she is, then please state clearly and without resorting to melodrama exactly who and what would harm her. If you cannot articulate your ideas, then they must not be very good.

And, no, she has not received more media scrutiny then the pope, or even many garden variety minor local celebs.

Finally, the issue is not even about her. She is pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things. This whole matter is about her husband and the fact that he broke the law, which he admitted in court to doing. It does not matter really the substance of what he did, it is simply incompatible for the chief law enforcer to stay in his position when he admits to violating the law. Let's say he admitted to stealing a package of gum from a store, a much more minor offense than the false imprisonment charge he pleaded to. 99.99% of people would agree that a Sheriff who shoplifts, even a something small, and even though it is a misdemeanor offense, has no business staying in his position of Sheriff. That is the only issue.

Most people in the city do not care about Eliana or her theatrics. What they care about is preserving the integrity of the office of Sheriff and it is embarrassing to have a law breaker in the position of enforcing the law in the City and County of San Francisco.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

The United States, in comparison, is around 25 on that list - right behind Thailand but ahead of Georgia and Latvia.

You really need to check your facts before making idiotic statements like Eliana is returning to Venezuela because it's such a safe place.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

You don't know the first thing about Eliana, so STFU!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

"Knowing" her is irrelevant.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:45 am

I know of two people who thought they knew Eliana Lopez: Ivory Madison and Abraham Mertens. Boy, did she have them fooled.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

not to go to work on her new film and not to return to take care of her child and her father? She has an acting job in Venezuela where she is a noted actress. Mr. Mirkarimi still has no income..comprende?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 8:01 am

People get banned from SFgate all the time, it is not about politics, its about the algorithm that SFgate uses. No one cares about you, your self righteousness and your ridiculous conspiracy theories. What an ego you have. To think that your paranoid delusions matter to anyone but you.?

Posted by matlock on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 4:47 am

Are you saying that sfgate's policy about their discretion in deciding if posts are "abusive" is all poppycock? Do you have special knowledge of who gets blocked from the site? and for what? Do you use that same sort of journalistic investigative skill to determine generally who cares about whom?
Looks like you lost, Matie. Being such a poor loser reflects on your ego, not mine.Don't you yearn to throw off that"whipped" state you're in because Phil Bronstein makes your leg tingle?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

After a number of blocked posts you get your user account blocked. When an individual post gets blocked it's because of other readers.

The rest of your post is just bizarre.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

because you work at the Chronicle?Matie??

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 11:23 am

All kinds of untoward things can happen to people when press are chasing them around and they don't wanta be chased. Diana's story was probably the worst, and no I can't predict exactly what the danger would be but who predicted that? Eliana has been seen with a bodyguard trying to protect her from the press closing in on her.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm
not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

Posted by photography schools on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

If anyone relies on this bird cage liner for anything other than Macy's ads and obituaries, well ... I guess that may explain the ignorance of so many nameless neanderthals who post here.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

No, domestic violence laws are about society saying will not tolerate certain behavior. Have you ever noticed that when someone is charged with a crime, the case is the People vs. So-and-So? That is because when you commit a criminal act, you commit a crime against society, not just the specific victim.

Also, Eliana is a victim of Ross's violence--and most likely on more than one occasion, but she is also a victim of her own stupidity and selfishness, if the story she and Ross and his supporters are trying to sell to the public is true. We are to believe that a smart, intelligent and charismatic women became so distraught over a simple argument, something most couples have quite often in the course of a relationship, that she became hysterical and went to a person who was not even a close friend and asked her to video-tape a bruise so it could be use against her spouse in a court proceeding. If the bruise was no big deal and should not be an issue, then basically we have a story of Eliana setting her own spouse up to either deny him custody of his own child or to threaten him to gain leverage in their relationship. Either way, it would be truly despicable behavior.

So, what is it Ross supporters? Is Eliana a victim? A vicious, lying bitch? Or a strong, powerful woman showing grace under fire? Because the story Ross and his supporters are pushing seem to paint her as all three depending on whichever makes Ross look the best at the particular moment.

Who knows? Maybe, she is just crazy. But, her mental health and her motivations are completely irrelevant. The real issue, and the only issue is that the Sheriff is elected to enforce the law, and it is just not logical or right to have someone charged with the duty of enforcing the law, plead guilty to breaking it and get to keep his or her job. I would expect any other official in such a position to gracefully step down, and this is what Ross should have done right after he plead. It is embarrassing to the SF to have an admitted criminal--he plead guilty, so that is not at issue in the office of chief law enforcer. This is the only issue. Eliana and her telenova melodrama is just a sideshow.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

to learn the definitions of "telenova" vs. "Telenovela".

and then you could what it actually means when three domestic charges vaporize and are replaced with a misdemeanor false imprisonment plea.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 8:05 am

Guest, first the charges did not "vaporize." Plea agreements are very common in domestic violence cases, and in most criminal cases. The vast majority of criminal cases are settled through plea agreements, so it does not prove that there was not a reasonable basis to file the domestic violence charges.

Second, false imprisonment is a very serious offense, it is not the equivalent of a traffic ticket or something like that.

Third, it is NOT common for some convicted of vanilla false imprisonment to be ordered to attend DV classes and anger management as Ross was ordered to do, so yes, even the judge knew there was a DV element to the crime.

Fourth, if a person is elected to enforce the law in a jurisdiction then he should be removed from service if he breaks the law. It is incompatible to violate the law when you are supposed to be in charge of enforcing it. Even if there had been no DV crime, and Ross and plead guilty to falsely imprisoning a neighbor or friend, it would make him unfit for office. Among all the self-righteous defense of him, I have never heard one argument or even attempt at one as to why someone who is in charge of enforcing the law, and admits to breaking it, should ethically or logically be allowed to stay in his or her position. That is the only issue. If he had any sense of decency, and if he truly cared about not putting his family through an ordeal, then he should have done the proper thing and resigned after pleading guilty to false imprisonment.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:19 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:45 am

Mayors shouldn't repeatedly perjure themselves

Posted by marcos on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

It is 100% certain that Ross admits to a violent crime.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:46 am

Oh puhleeze. If it were a violent crime, it would not be a M-I-S-D-E-M-E-A-N-O-R. The election was over in the fall, you Chris Cunnie campaign worker. Go home, call it a day, move to Arizona.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 9:49 am

The commissioners basically said that Lee has already lost his case, so there is no need to waste time showing that he also lied.

The evidence will be admitted in other court proceedings.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

Walter Wong (in a Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 11:00AM text message) to Aaron Peskin:

"Our friend want me to tell u, no matter what outcome w ur negotiations, he is appreciate ur Help."

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

So, assuming you could prove the Mayor perjured himself, then by your logic because Ed Lee did something bad, it is okay that the Sheriff did something bad? Yes, I get it that you are a hypocrite and morally bankrupt, and you do not care what is right or wrong, just as long as you can further your political agenda. But, let's focus on logic.

If Ed Lee broke the law, then he should be punished accordingly, but again, you and no one else can respond to the simple fact that if the Sheriff admitted to breaking the law, then it disqualifies him morally and ethically from remaining in office.

Again, he could have admitted to stealing a package of gum, it does not matter the type of crime, it is the fact that he admitted to committing a crime and that is incompatible with being the chief law enforcer. That is it. Case closed.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

By your standards, Chris, thousands of cops from across the country would need to immediately resign for committing crimes ranging from DUI to unlawful battery. Most of us don't see the world in such black-and-white terms, which is the simplistic tendency of many conservatives. We understand that all people are flawed, but that they may still make valuable contributions, such as extending Michael Hennessey's proud progressive legacy as a sheriff who understood the idea of redemption and hired ex-cons into top leadership positions in the department. Frankly, I'd rather have a law-breaker like Ross in this position than a harsh disciplinarian like you. Criminals are still people who deserve to be treated with respect if we are ever going to reintegrate them into society, which should be the goal.

Posted by steven on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 10:06 am

Steven,

First, there is a huge difference between your run-of-the-mill police officer and an elected official, who should always be held to the highest standards possible. But, since you bring it up, yes, a police officer who commits a crime does not belong on the police force. So, we are in agreement, yes, law enforcement officers who commit crimes should be removed from law enforcement. It is neither an unrealistic nor an unfair standard.

Second, yes, many people redeem themselves, but that does not mean they should not face consequences for their actions. I work in the private sector, I do not even have the expectations of the sacred trust of holding a public office, but if I committed a crime, even one completely outside my employment, I would expect my employer to fire me, and yes, many private employers do just that with employees who are convicted of violating the law. Breaking the law is a reflection on poor judgment and poor moral character. Now, individuals can, and many do, often improve their judgment and correct their sense of right and wrong, but this does not mean they deserve to avoid consequences, including losing their jobs. And, especially when their jobs involve enforcing the law.

Third, there is nothing harsh about expecting ethical and correct behavior from others and from oneself. You mention dignity, but you fail to see that it is the highest form of disrespect and disregard for the worth of an individual to fail to hold that individual accountable for his or her actions and words. Pity masquerading as mercy is the worse form of cruelty. Also, Ross Mirkarimi has a responsibility as an elected official to be a role model, and not an embarrassment to himself and the community. Rather, than focusing on his desire for power, he could be a true role model to criminals by showing them what it means to take responsibility for ones actions by resigning from his office and focusing on his family and his private issues.

Steven, your position on the issue demonstrates a moral bankruptcy and a woeful ignorance of what it means to treat others with dignity and respect.

Posted by Chris Brown on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 9:23 am

God you're a pompous prick.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 1:13 am

Best response to the mess, thanks Chris

Posted by GuestOfNoOne on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 7:09 am

If the mayor perjured himself, then the public should know about it before it is considered by the Board of Supervisors. Particularly, if the thing the mayor perjured himself about was jury tampering.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

There are good people who have broken the law, and good citizens. Its well known that there is a good sheriff in San Francisco, who was convicted of manslaughter. Sure, the case is not really that simple, but it just underscores, that *simple fact* analysis is often wrong in a complex world.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

MegaMan, you missed the point. The issue is not whether someone can be a criminal yet still basically be a good person. Yes, there are certainly good people who choose to do bad things, including breaking the law. I know some good people who were convicted of crimes.

However, the fact that one can be a good person is irrelevant to the issue of whether one should be held accountable for ones actions. And, when you break the law, the consequences you face, go above and beyond just those involving the criminal justice system. If you break the law, then this is incompatible with being the chief law enforcer and you should resign.

We do live in a complex world, but quite often, as in this case, a simple fact analysis is quite appropriate.

There is nothing to debate or discuss. The issue is crystal clear, and so is the appropriate remedy.

Posted by Chris Brown on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Gotcha, felonies get a pass but misdemeanors pled out of impending indigence get punished with the full extent of the political law.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 6:52 am

Ross Mirkarimi's momentary grab of his wife's arm -- which she herself testified only resulted in a bruise because *she* pulled her arm away suddenly! -- is hardly what constitutes activity which your absolutely bogus "violent criminals" term suggests.

On the other hand -- and this just represents one example among slews that I've come up with and posted in the past, mostly on SFGate which have now been expunged -- just you do a Yahoo! search ["Dean Kimpel" sheriff] and maybe you'll see something that really bothers you.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

Lil, again, it does not matter what he did. As I pointed out earlier, he could have admitted to shoplifting a package of gum from store, which is a much more minor offense than false imprisonment, the crime he plead guilty to, and it would still disqualify him from office.

You cannot be the chief law enforcer and break the law. It is completely incompatible with his duties. The issue is not even about DV. It is simply, he broke the law, and he admitted to it in court, and that is that. He does not belong in office.

His political affiliation is irrelevant as well. He could be a Republican, a Democrat, a Socialist, a Communist, an Anarchist, etc. It is all irrelevant. He was elected to be the chief law enforcer for San Francisco, and he admitted to breaking the law, and this disqualifies him from office.

What may have happened with other sheriffs in other jurisdictions is irrelevant. What the mayor may or may not have done is irrelevant. Whether you think it is no big deal to grab someone's arm and leave a bruise is irrelevant.

The issue the only issue is he is the Sheriff, and he admitted to breaking the law, so he is unfit to continue serving in his office. Case closed.

Posted by Chris on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

And we can't even ask questions to know if Edward was lying.

Elections do matter. We know who won the elections.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

Who is Edward?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

Yes, elections do matter, and so do the ethical responsibilities of office holders.

And, yes, if Ed Lee broke the law, then he should be removed from office, too. Also, Ed Lee was elected, too, so I am not sure why Ross Mirkarimi's election would somehow be more valid than Ed Lee's election?

Again, Ed Lee is a separate person from Ross Mirkarimi and his actions are a separate matter.

Ross Mirkarimi needs to resign from office.

Posted by Chris Brown on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 9:27 am

one arm grab does not an abuser make.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

and the people don't want a criminal being sheriff.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:52 am

deal with it. That's democracy. Sometimes criminals and liars are elected.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:39 pm