SF spousal abuse case generates interest

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webmaster | 01/21/12
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The biggest story (aside from the upcoming 49ers NFC Championship game against the New York Giants on Sunday) is the odd situation in which the new sheriff and his wife find themselves.

On New Year’s Eve, Eliana Lopez, wife of newly elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, went to a neighbor and complained that her husband had grabbed her and threatened her. The neighbor happens to be a well known feminist and women’s advocate, and so she videotaped a bruise that Lopez said Mirkarimi’s behavior caused.

Eventually, Mirkarimi was arrested and charged with three misdemeanor violence counts.

Both Mirkarimi and Lopez have refused to cooperate with the police investigation. Mirkarimi says he didn’t do anything, and the wife says she won’t testify.

Mirkarimi, a former San Francisco supervisor, had himself sworn in as sheriff this month, anyway, but many, including the San Francisco Chronicle, are saying he should step aside until the case is resolved.

No matter on which side of the issue you may be, the behavior of Mirkarimi and Lopez isn’t all that unusual when it comes to spousal abuse cases. Local police officers and sheriff’s deputies see this all the time.

They will be called to the scene of a domestic dispute, they will make an arrest, then on overnight reflection, the victim will decline to press charges, or will either wind up not testifying or will lie under oath so the suspect can go free. This happens frequently, although it’s highly unusual for the defendant to be a prominent big-city politician.

Some spouses believe a certain amount of abuse can be justified, just to keep order in a household. Others won’t tolerate it and will end a relationship before putting up with another confrontation.

As a supervisor, Mirkarimi was known for his ordinance to ban plastic bags from San Francisco. Coincidentally, he’s a former investigator for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Regardless of how this turns out, it will be great theater.

 

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