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

So you find 40 seconds of video staged to be used as evidence in a child custody battling more insightful and real than more than three hours on the stand being cross-examined by a hostile attorney, in which her story was consistent and credible even as city officials asked repeated questions probing every possible weakness or inconsistency in her testimony?

I suppose some people will believe anything, particulalry when it reinforces their own biases and beliefs.

Posted by steven on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 10:58 am

>"I suppose some people will believe anything, particulalry when it reinforces their own biases and beliefs."

::Insert POT-KETTLE reference here::

The cross examination by the City Attorney majorly s*cked. But it still pointed out the 'then vs now inconsistencies'. Particularly in regard to Ross being a 'powerful man' (now he is just an American citizen) and the 'this is the 2nd time' stuff.

Just because she didn't admit to them doesn't mean that she successfully explained them away

Posted by Troll on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 11:37 am

all feminists are victims. to be a member, you must first get your 'victim card'. asking if a feminist is a victims is like asking is the sky is blue.

so just let these so-called victims spread the notion of their victimhood. the only people who take them seriously are other serial victims. must make for a great dinner party... "so, how did a man ruin your life?"

Posted by janet on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:33 am

politically motivated, non-smiling, man-hating, every cross word is abuse, domestic violence harpies with no sense of proportionality...certainly qualify.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:54 am

Ah, such "progressive" commenters hereabouts.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

is for wimps who are afraid of being called "liberal".

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

And others think it means actually being progressive. There's nothing more progressive than real feminism, including feminist economics. The commenters here—mostly white men, usually straight—would do well to think about what principles they're throwing under the bus to in the name of one kind of economic justice.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

Complaining about straight white males and their opinions?

The progressives and their loathing of differing opinions is so good, the ability to dismiss everyone in the world based on their race, class and identification makes the fringe right look absolutely open minded.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 6:49 am

If a couple makes love passionately and she bruises - is that domestic abuse?

I think not.

This whole scenario makes San Fran look so stupid and petty and pathetic. Mr. Mirkarimi is a good man who was elected sheriff by the people who want this to be over for him. The "case" and charges should just be dismissed.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

That's now part of Ross' permanent record. Which is what this issue is about - the fact that the sheriff of San Francisco is a convicted criminal who is on probation and thus - unable to carry out his duties. That is a fact.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

gibberish

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

It has to be causing some concern in Room 200, and the powers above, when even that radical socialist hippie, Debra Saunders, seems to be jumping ship.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

you sure do spend a lot of time reading it and commenting on the articles.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

who still give a shit about this boring, drawn out, endless saga.

The public has just about hit the mute button on all of this. But here's what will happen, and anybody on here who argues otherwise is way, way too invested in the partisan bullshit surrounding this entire circus.

- Ross will keep his job. No recall effort will come about. He'll slumber along as the most impotent sheriff of all time, have no real authority, collect his pay, and lose a delusional reelection bid in about 3 years.

- Ed Lee will keep being Chinese, keep playing the friendly city manager role, keep his ties to the business community, and will continue to govern to the center as anybody who isn't headless knows that's where this City is going. He'll be reelected in 2014.

- One more progressive seat will be lost in the BOS this election cycle, partly due to Rossgate.

- Eliana will never have a presence in this city again. She got her taste of American politics and is more than willing to bail on this shit entirely.

That's all. The rest is just 8-10 people on here who seriously need a hobby.

Posted by Bored Reader on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

drawing with a powerful attraction those who feel compelled to distract from -- and sidestep -- growing awareness of the duplicity of the mayor's behavior.

Someone of your oracle-like divining skills must be really important to listen to.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 8:34 am

article alone, lol?

Because you feel "compelled to distract from the growing awareness of the duplicity of the mayor's behavior"?

And I'm not even counting the posting you've done using fake name where you agree with yourself because nobody else does, or the endless comments you've made on the Guardian's many other stories on this saga.

Posted by Lurker on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

Nob Hill and Pacific Heights cocktail parties these days? That gorgeous Venezuelan bombshell who just turned city hall upside down.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

Elena got driven to court in a limo?

Classy!

Posted by guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 6:23 am

Little wonder the anti-Mirkarimi cabal are grasping at such thin straw these days.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 8:24 am

Is SFExaminer joining list of leading luminaries leaning away from Lee?
@Bored..think you pretty much nailed it - though 2014 is still aways off and this is SF after all, anything is possible.
GO GIANTS.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 8:48 am

SF Examiner is one person of high achievement or renown? Luminaries are "leaning" away from Lee? (Does this reflect poorly on them -- or Lee?)

Your comment @Bored: in three years will Bored maybe be wrong about Lee getting re-elected -- or Mirkarimi? Did Bored "pretty much nail it" in any -- or all -- other regards?

To tell the truth, I guess I'm not really interested in what you have to say anymore, since it seems you write comments to no particular aim. "Go Giants."

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Exercise creative imagination, read between lines, don't be so literal, leave that to the trolls.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 10:00 am

I hereby vow to focus on place greater emphasis on avoiding any appearance of troll-like behavior and encourage all other non-trolls to do likewise.

Have a nice day.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 10:46 am

and move out of your dingy SRO so you can experience life outside those same four walls and the flickering of your circa 2000 Gateway computer.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

Lee lost the case. He had no proof.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:41 pm
LOL

No chance. This is going to the Board of Supervisors and you can expect it to be decided by mid-October at the earliest.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

What do the fashion police say about the glasses?

Posted by Steph on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

Who the fuck cares? Women are too often judged by their looks, and it's about time people wake up realize what really matters here. The mayor and his goon, the DA, broke up a family and have done everything in their power to bring down a duly elected official.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

But Lee did lose this case. And it should be done soon.

Posted by MegaMan on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 5:37 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 @ 8:00 am

What I have concluded ipers Eliana is sooooo stupid and arrogant, she is a perfect match for this goon, Mirkarimi but this is no environment for a kid.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 9:53 am

to Jerry Sandusky. I kid you not, on the radio, no objection from the host of the program.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Which show? Do you have a transcript?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

Remember his silly-assed stunt of donning his scuba gear to go searching for the Mountain Lake alligator?

I think Phil Bronstein is like Jerry Sandusky. An embarassment. (That must be the sense he meant it in... unless maybe the anti-Mirkarimi conspirators are really going nuts now that their plan has fallen to pieces?)

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

Did anyone believe for even a moment that the DA would go after his pal Ed "the Liar" Lee?

http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/07/24/da-george-gascon-wont-inve...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

Elena has gone home to Venezuela to finish her move and be with her son.

Ross is still here. STAY TUNED

Posted by guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 8:37 am

finish her movie is the correct fact.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 11:49 am