Abuse foes say San Francisco sheriff avoiding responsibility 

click to enlarge Beverly Upton said Ross Mirkarimi’s comments show he has not accepted guilt for his actions. - JOSEPH SCHELL/SPECIAL TO THE SF EXAMINER
  • Joseph Schell/Special to The SF Examiner
  • Beverly Upton said Ross Mirkarimi’s comments show he has not accepted guilt for his actions.

Victim advocacy groups are furious about the lack of remorse they perceive coming from Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, despite his guilty plea earlier this week in a high-profile domestic violence case.

They gathered on the steps of City Hall on Thursday to say Mirkarimi isn’t taking responsibility for his actions, based on published comments suggesting that the plea arose from his case becoming too expensive and burdening his family — not necessarily any real guilt.

“That’s not the way someone who wants redemption and restoration behaves,” said Beverly Upton, speaking on behalf of a coalition of domestic violence groups asking Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to remove the sheriff from office.

Mirkarimi did not respond to the comments, but his attorney, Lidia Stiglich, said the notion that he is maintaining his innocence is a “drumbeat that needs to stop.”

“He pleaded guilty because he is guilty, and is accepting responsibility for what has occurred,” Stiglich said. “What more do you want the guy to do?”

Earlier this week, the sheriff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in exchange for the dismissal of three other misdemeanors related to an alleged fight with his wife at the couple’s home on New Year’s Eve.

District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday that while he’s “very concerned” about the sheriff’s comments, he’ll seek to have Mirkarimi clarify his position during his sentencing in court Monday rather than ask a judge to kill the deal.

Although uncommon, prosecutors can ask a judge to rescind such agreements if they believe a convict isn’t taking full responsibility for a crime.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Gascón said. “You can’t tell the court you’re guilty and then go out publicly and say you’re not.”

Also Thursday, Gascón revealed for the first time the reason behind the false imprisonment charge, which he said is connected to Mirkarimi having “precluded” his wife, Eliana Lopez, “from freely coming and going as she pleased.”

Although Gascón did not provide details about where the false imprisonment occurred, court documents alleged that after the bruising incident, Mirkarimi told Lopez she could not leave the house. But while he was taking a shower, she snuck out to confide in a neighbor who recorded a video description of the abuse, sparking the original charges.

If Lee wants to begin removal proceedings for Mirkarimi under the City Charter, he’ll need such details to build a case, which would require support from nine of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors to stick.

On Thursday, the mayor said he’s still seeking facts before any move toward suspension, and he’s seeking advice from former mayors, whom he declined to name. Earlier this week, Lee said if the facts of the case match the City Charter’s description of official misconduct, it will be his “duty” to take action.

“I don’t know what happened in court, and I have to find all that out,” Lee said.


Original charges

Domestic violence battery

Dissuading a witness

Child endangerment

New charge

False imprisonment

Terms of plea deal

Three years of probation

100 hours of community service

52 weeks of domestic violence classes

Parenting or family counseling

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Dan Schreiber

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