Debra J. Saunders
The domestic-violence case against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi did not start with a call from wife Eliana Lopez or neighbors who heard a fight getting out of control at the family's home on New Year's Eve. It started with a Jan. 4 phone call to police from a friend and neighbor, Ivory Madison, whom Lopez had visited on New Year's Day. According to a police affidavit, Madison videotaped Lopez crying and showing a bruise on her upper right arm, caused, Lopez said, by her husband's grabbing her.

Last month, District Attorney George Gascon filed misdemeanor charges against Mirkarimi for domestic violence battery of his wife, child endangerment and dissuading a witness, his wife. At the time, I questioned whether San Francisco wants to throw the full weight of the law to prosecute a man accused of bruising his wife's arm.

I appreciate that Gascon is in a difficult position. Bay Area Legal Aid staff attorney Minouche Kandel noted that Mirkarimi is the "chief law enforcement officer of the sheriff's office" and that he carries a gun. (Actually, the sheriff surrendered his gun when he was charged.) Kandel believes that the DA has an obligation to make sure that "a person in a position of authority with a gun is not abusing that power in their home." Besides, if Gascon did not file charges, there would have been an uproar.

On the other hand, Lopez does not want the criminal case to continue and objects to the restraining order that prevents Mirkarimi from talking to her. (Last week, a judge granted Mirkarimi visitation rights with the couple's 2-year-old son.) A former telenovela actress from Venezuela, Lopez told Caracas radio station Noticias24, "This is a case of political persecution."

And: "I am not a little Indian girl gringo victim."

Yet she may be a victim of a system that, in the worthy goal of trying to protect women, infantilizes them.

There's a presumption, argued KGO talk show host, attorney and feminist Christine Craft, that a woman "can't possibly know what's best for her. She's making it up."

The system now treats women, according to Craft, as if they were "6-year-old girls" who "have to be told what it is they think."

Paula Canny, whom Lopez hired as her attorney, said, "Eliana in her own right is a very powerful woman." Lopez is a successful actress and a strong woman. Thus, the stay-away order is both "paternalistic" and "rude."

In addition, Canny argues, the DA "overcharged" a case that never should have been brought to court. On New Year's Day, Canny said, Lopez went to vent to a friend -- never dreaming the friend would call the police. Canny talks about Madison as if Madison were Linda Tripp.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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