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

technicality. What i alsos aid was that, even if he gets his job back, he will have no legitimacy, no popular mandate and won't have the respect of LE officers.

That's "pulling thru" - it's not winning.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

That's the most appropriate response I've seen to this whole sordid witch hunt.

The photographer has a very good eye!

Posted by Greg on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

on behalf of myself -- if not Eliana Lopez -- please take that gesture personally.

... you too Phil Bronstein.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

Always on the stage.

Note how Eliana is on the next plane back to Caracas though. so much for being overjoyed to be "back" with Ross.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:02 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 11:34 am

anybody can make reasonable inferences from her behavior.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

Just wondering if anyone noticed that during Eliana's testimony.

I'm sure she was just making the point about how little sound insulation was in the walls and ceiling of the building they shared and wasn't making some personal remark concerning her erstwhile neighbor.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

I, for one, will be looking forward to Elena's starting role in the Simon Bolivar Story now under production in Venezuela. Somebody in the family needs to work for a living.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

A judge says she and Ross can be together again and so she hops on a plane out of town rather than stand by his side to support him.

You can't make this stuff up.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

her child and not start a new movie on MOnday? to earn money to support her family, since her husband was suspended without pay?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 8:28 am

Theo is an American citizen.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 9:05 am

SURPRISE!! San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:40 am

Love the Happy Couple chose to have their reunion in front of TV cameras.

And would love to be a fly on the wall when they start screaming at each other in private

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

now she in in Caracas with his son, while his career is in tatters because of her dumbness.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

He's very proud that his wife made a bravura appearance in front of the Ethics Commission and ably handled every tough question the mayor's lawyers could throw at her. You're the one who's angry. Didn't you swear that you knew she would "never come back?"

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:43 am

And she's is going back ASAP.

Stand by your man? Don't make me laugh.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

NOT to have the resources to feed and care for her child?Are you just unaware that the mayor suspended the Sheriff without pay?
Bravura pertains to the content of her testimony as she rocked City Hall.
It's wonderful that faced with all the opposition from people, including the mayor who did not want to hear what she had to say, there were people who donated the funds to fly her here, and then back to her native country where she begins a new film tomorrow. Were you going to contribute to help her stay here while her husband fights for his rightful job? I thought not.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:50 am

Miami is the furthest from Caracas she is willing to tolerate. She clearly has zero interest in standing by Ross's side.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:41 am

I noticed the gesture in the photo above when it happened. Glad it was caught in this photo! Gotta get your jollies where you can in this case. Thanks. : )

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

That's alimony in her eye; not a tear.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

I thought she was scratching herself. See where this gets us? The main thing is:
It Looks Like She Is Giving Someone The Finger And That Is Funny!
Can we all agree about that?

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

And she can adopt any pose, posture or disposition that she wants.

Especially now that Ross is under her thumb.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

Methinks you superimpose too much. These are two human beings with real problems like we all have. Ross is getting some needed skills, and whether they work things out or not is probably none of our business. Like Eliana said, if they do end up in family therapy (which is what she originally wanted), she'll probably learn a few things about herself too that she doesn't already know. More power to them.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 10:45 am

My concern is more that having a criminal as sheriff represents a conflict of interest that makes his position no longer tenable.

Ross should resign and focus on his family.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 11:02 am

or conservatives, or "downtown interests", or closet Republicans, or whatever you want to call it.

This really isn't that deep.

The Pak/Brown powerbrokers found the perfect mark for this. Let's take a guy who's big headed enough to drag this out a full year, the type of guy who already lost but refuses to officially give in... and let's force his friends to take sides in the Supervisor elections. He is giving them exactly what they want.

Olague is smart enough to see the writing on the wall. Good luck Mar....

A 9th grader could recognize the strategy on this, but you idiots missed it? lol.

Posted by Phillp on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 12:50 am

The conspiracy uncovered.... Now I get it, San Francisco it is all like a episode of the Rockford files where the mark does everything according to plan.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 4:28 am

Either Ross loses his job OR he keeps his job but is impotent and illegitimate until the enxt election, when he gets crushed.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 5:04 am

Only two options? really? but then, I understand. You are one of the many knowing types who asserted there was no chance in hell that Eliana would ever return to SF. It must really sting that she rocked city hall.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 8:31 am

I never ruled out her returning if some shmuck paid her fare.

But evidently she didn't care about Ross enough to pay her own way, accept his cash or just because she wanted to.

And of course she wants him to get his job back. How else is she going to sue for alimony and child support?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 9:04 am

Redundant but ... GREAT PICTURE.
Somewhere I have one of hairboy picking his nose at an event, or maybe he was wiping away some white residue.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 10:03 am

Interesting comments from Elena in the Chron today.

She's going back to Venezuela to make a movie. She says Ross came come with her, and they can live in "Caracas or Miami."

In short, she's going home to sanity next week. The next move is in Ross's court.

She's the only breadwinner in the family now. I wonder if he will follow her to HugoParadise.

Little Theo wants his mummy n daddy together. They belong in Venezuela together ith the little boy.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

""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.""

That is your take, Steve. I think she is hinting to Ross: "Come and live with me in Caracas. That's your only option cabron."

Posted by Troll the XIV on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

This premise is ridiculous, if Ms. Lopez is a "victim," it's of her own conniving. As she said, she made the video to blackmail her husband. In her testimony, she came across as someone used to getting her way, and when she doesn't, she pitches a fit.
She probably didn't think her husband would lose his job, but she accomplished her goal--she's back in Venezuela with the son, pursuing her career. You can't help but notice that she only stepped forward to put the video and her remarks "in context," after she took the son out of the country, and only on a donated plane ticket. This whole sorry spectacle could have been avoided if she'd told the truth from the beginning, or better yet, not spread lies to the neighbors in the first place.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

conned Eliana into thinking that the only way she could get custody of her son in a potential custody battle, was to let Poison make a little video for "insurance". Ms. Lopez testified that knowing what she now knows about Poison Ivory, she regrets ever trusting her.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:53 am

to extort consessions from Ross backfired and how they have no paycheck.

Eliana allowed her greed and manipulations to trump her sense of reasonableness.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:43 am
Posted by Troll II on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

"...in therapy herself for anger issues..."

More fantasy, dished out without a shred of evidence.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 5:53 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

""she accomplished her goal--she's back in Venezuela with the son, pursuing her career. You can't help but notice that she only stepped forward to put the video and her remarks "in context," after she took the son out of the country, and only on a donated plane ticket,."""

Yes, I agree completely. The woman had a plan. And that was to take the boy back to Venezuela. Ross can come along if he wants. She's flying home on Tuesday. She's got a job. And a child. Ross has neither.

And she has invited him to move to Venezuela, too. And she knows he will not call her bluff. A smart lady.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

She under-estimated how far things would go, however, and didn't want Ross to lose his job and her meal ticket. But otherwise she's got him just where she wants him now.

She's a scheme and he's an abuser - real nice combo.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

is herself.. You probably hate it that she is a popular and well-known and employed actress in Venezuela.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:56 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:39 am

I bet she's big in Japan too.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

Yes, she's the Charo of Venequela

The cuter broad on Days of Our Lives.

A role model for progressives.

Posted by guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

what's a "roll" model?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

Eliana and Theo come back to San Francisco, will you then finally just implode?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:52 pm
: )

: )

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

She is a schemer.

A decade of appearing in soap operas taught her a few things.

Ross should do the right thing;

Move with her to Caracas, and become a good father to little Theo.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:48 am

He no longer has a credible political future here, and needs to accept his fate and move on.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 2:42 am

"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 don't know, Steven. She looked pretty shattered in the "bruise" video.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 4:43 am