Ross Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, filed a declaration today for the suspended sheriff's official misconduct hearing. The statement, her first under oath since the couple's Jan. 1 domestic dispute spurred a criminal investigation, explains in detail what she has been saying publicly all along: Her neighbor Ivory Madison blew the couple's fight out of proportion and broke confidentiality by conveying Lopez's story to the police.
The perspective Lopez offered in the declaration may suggest why, in correspondence with Madison, she took partial responsibility for the dispute and defended her husband as "a victim as well" who "couldn't escape from his circumstances." Lopez, from how she tells it, was concerned over Madison's perceived enthusiasm for pursuing domestic violence charges.
"Ivory told me that I should accuse Ross of domestic violence so that I would get custody of Theo," Lopez stated. "Ivory spent more than an hour trying to convince me that calling the police was the only way to be free of Ross. She kept repeating words that at the time were new words for me, but she repeated them so many times that I learned them. Those words were, 'Screw him!'"
Lopez said that she came to Madison on Jan. 1 seeking legal advice. During an argument the night before, Lopez declared, "Ross had grabbed my arm in the car when I was taking Theo out of the car seat. I showed her the bruise on my arm." (In March Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. Soon after, Mayor Ed Lee suspended him and charged him with official misconduct, setting in motion the process to remove him from office.)
Madison advised Lopez to make a video that could serve as evidence in the event of a custody dispute. (Last month a judge ruled that the video could be admitted as evidence in Mirakrimi's Ethics Commission hearing.)
"As an American and politician, Ross is a powerful man and if he wanted, he could win custody of Theo," Lopez stated, explaining why she filmed the video in which she shows the bruise and tearfully says before the camera, "This is the second time this is happening."
Three days later, on Jan. 4, the women met up again. Upon seeing that the bruise had faded, according Lopez, "Ivory said, 'Eliana, we have to do it now, tomorrow it will be gone!' She told me not to take a shower, not to put on any makeup, and to keep myself in pajamas so that I looked as disheveled as possible."
Lopez only wanted to discuss "divorce and custody," not filing charges, she said in the court filing.
"I told her that I wanted to try therapy first because this had never happened before. Ross does not drink, he does not use drugs, he does not have lovers, he just worked too many hours, and maybe I was not the right woman for him. I told Ivory that I could not call the police and destroy Ross.... Ivory did not listen to me."
After their meeting, Lopez texted Madison, "Hello Ivory. I'm not going to call the police. I'm going to open a record with my doctor."
Madison called the police later that day.
Lopez, who is currently in Venezuela, claims that Madison broke attorney-client confidentiality. While Madison is not a licensed lawyer, Lopez argues that she believed that she was speaking to Madison "in her role as an attorney." Lopez's legal team has submitted as evidence possible statements by Madison that might have led Lopez to think that she was a practicing lawyer, such as a Facebook page that notes she was "Trained as an attorney" and the back flap of a comic book she wrote that mentions that "she has been a lawyer."
The declaration comes a day after Lopez's attorney, Paula Canny, told the Chronicle that Lopez was willing to testify in the hearing only if the city paid for her plane ticket.
Mirkarimi himself is scheduled to testify tomorrow.