SAN FRANCISCO — The domestic violence case against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was akin to a coup and was intended to bring him down, his wife said in an op-ed published Friday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Eliana Lopez, a Venezuelan actress and Mirkarimi's wife, said her 20 years in that country have taught her much about politics.
"I know how the media can create and influence public opinion to justify political actions...," she wrote. "I am shocked to witness the same formula being applied to my husband. In Spanish it is Golpe de Estado (coup d'etat), and that is what is happening to Ross."
Mirkarimi was charged with domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a New Year's Eve dispute with Lopez that allegedly left Lopez with a bruised arm.
Those charges were dropped in exchange for Mirkarimi's guilty plea last month to misdemeanor false imprisonment. He was subsequently suspended from his job and is now facing misconduct charges.
In her op-ed, Lopez characterized the dispute between the couple that led to the charges as a "very emotional misunderstanding" about possible custody issues that came up while the couple was struggling with its relationship. Mirkarimi and Lopez have a young son.
She said she has never feared for her safety or the safety of her son in Mirkarimi's presence.
"What I do fear is the mischaracterization of the events as a basis to remove my husband from elected office," she wrote.
A neighbor, Ivory Madison, took a video of a tearful Lopez describing the alleged New Year's Eve incident and displaying the bruise on her arm. It would turn out to be key evidence in the case against her husband.
Lopez said Madison had promised to keep the video secret and to use it only in the event of a custody dispute. Madison betrayed that promise when she contacted police, Lopez said.
Madison's husband, Abraham Mertens, has said Lopez pressured him to destroy evidence, an allegation Lopez called "false."
She said she loves her husband and is committed to him and their marriage.
"Ross has paid an unfair price for his side of our family disputes," she wrote. "I have paid a terrible price, too. So has our son, Theo."
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