SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco's new sheriff used his swearing-in ceremony Sunday to speak publicly for the first time about allegations that he was involved in a domestic abuse incident.
Former city supervisor Ross Mirkarimi took the oath of office at the city's War Memorial Veterans Building with his wife, Eliana Lopez, smiling at his side and holding their young child. He was sworn in by a former San Francisco mayor after a judge declined to administer the oath.
Mirkarimi denied that he had ever abused his wife, but acknowledged the controversy he's involved in as he takes over as the city's first new sheriff in more than 30 years.
"I am sorry that a cloud hangs over what should be a very special day," he said.
His wife also spoke, denying that she had ever been physical abused.
"I don't have any complaints against my husband," she said.
The public event followed a private ceremony at City Hall Saturday night that, according to spokesman Jim Stearns, was previously planned for Sunday morning but was changed because of what Stearns termed "scheduling issues."
The San Francisco judge who was set to administer the oath during Sunday's event declined to do so.
In an email to the San Francisco Chronicle, Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein said she didn't want to create a potential future legal conflict should a case involving Mirkarimi be brought to her court.
Feinstein is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Instead, former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos administered the oath.
Mirkarimi is under investigation over allegations that he was involved in a domestic violence incident with his wife, a charge she also denied last week.
According to a police affidavit, a neighbor of the couple said Lopez told her she sustained a bruise on her upper right arm when Mirkarimi grabbed her on New Year's Eve.
Ivory Madison also told police she videotaped the injury at the request of Lopez and exchanged text messages with her about the alleged domestic violence, the affidavit said.
San Francisco police turned over their findings to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office late Friday, police spokesman Albie Esparza said. Officials in the DA's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.
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