Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's wife, whom he has been charged with physically abusing, appeared in San Francisco Family Court today asking a judge to allow her husband supervised visits with the couple's son, asserting that a court order barring Mirkarimi from seeing his family is doing "damage" to the child.
"My son, Theo, is asking for his father every day," Eliana Lopez said in a signed declaration filed with the court today. "He waits for Ross on the stairs in the morning, hoping Ross will be there to take him to school; he runs to the window in the evenings looking for Ross; and the last few days he has been imagining he sees Ross's car outside. He is constantly asking me when daddy is coming home."
Mirkarimi and Lopez appeared at family court with their respective lawyers to request a modification of Superior Court Judge Susan Breall's stay-away order, which was issued in the criminal case stemming from Mirkarimi's alleged abuse of Lopez. After filing paperwork requesting supervised visits for two hours every day, attorneys said that a hearing on the matter would take place next Wednesday.
Lidia Stiglich, Mirkarimi's lawyer, said that her client would be flexible in accepting conditions the court imposes on his visitation rights. "If they tell him he has to stand on one leg and Skype, he'll do it," she said.
READ A COPY OF LOPEZ'S FAMILY COURT DECLARATION HERE.
Mirkarimi has been charged with three misdemeanor counts of battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness after he allegedly grabbed his wife and left a bruise on her arm during an argument on New Year's Eve. Prosecutors say they have a video in which Lopez shows the bruise to a neighbor and expresses fear of Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor who was sworn in as sheriff last month.
Prosecutors have also revealed text messages obtained by police that show Lopez was considering contacting police about the alleged abuse, and planned to "open a record" with her doctor about her injuries.
Last week, a former girlfriend of Mirkarimi's also came forward to tell police she had been abused in similar fashion by Mirkarimi when they dated several years ago. The woman, Christina Flores, is scheduled to testify in Mirkarimi's trial at the end of February.
Despite these allegations, both Lopez and Mirkarimi have maintained that no abuse took place and that they wish to be reunited. The issuance of a stay-away order is common in pending cases of domestic violence.
"All I can say is I'm going in there with the greatest amount of hope," Mirkarimi said today when he arrived at family court. "I'm dying to see my family and be with my son."
He later departed the courthouse in tears.
In between, Mirkarimi chatted amiably with reporters in the courtroom before attorneys filed their motions. He discussed the effects of statewide prison realignment on San Francisco's jails, and -- in a move that elicited sympathetic cooing from several journalists present -- said he had just bought Curious George books for his son, Theo Aureliano Mirkarimi Lopez, who is 2 years old.
"It's kind of cathartic to talk to you guys, because I haven't been able to talk to you guys," he told reporters.
However, when SF Weekly asked him about the accusations from Flores that came to light last week, and the damaging contents of his wife's text messages, his lawyers told him to stop speaking to the press.
Lopez declined to comment as she left the courtroom. In her declaration, she said she has been telling Theo that "daddy is traveling and cannot come home yet."
"My son's child care provider has told me that she has noticed a real change in Theo since he has not been able to see Ross," Lopez said in the declaration. "He cries more at day care and is far less social than he used to be.... I keep assuring Theo that I love and miss Ross as well, but as Theo's mother I am very concerned about the damage it is doing my son for him to be separated from his father so long under such difficult circumstances."
Lopez' declaration asks that the two-hour daily visits between Mirkarimi and Theo be supervised by Patricia Forsyth. It is unclear whether Forsyth is an employee or officer of the family-court system, but a woman by that name helped organize Mirkarimi's inaugural celebration on Jan. 8. She is listed on an invitation to that event as the executive director of Safe Communities SF, a "not for profit agency."
Lopez's family-law attorney, Deborah Wald, said her client has obtained a new attorney, Paula Canny of Burlingame, to represent her in the ongoing criminal case. Lopez was previously represented in the criminal proceedings at 850 Bryant St. by Cheryl Wallace.
Mirkarimi himself got rid of his previous lawyer, Robert Waggener, after Waggener described him as a "tyrant" while speaking to reporters.
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