Embattled SF sheriff tells mayor he's not leaving 

Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said Tuesday he told Mayor Ed Lee that he is not leaving his job, despite being recently charged with domestic violence and two other crimes.

Mirkarimi told reporters that the meeting with Lee in City Hall was cordial, adding that he told Lee that he could do his job effectively despite the misdemeanor charges.

When asked if the mayor asked him to step down or if he has considered doing so on his own accord, Mirkarimi simply replied, "No."

The mayor and sheriff met for about 20 minutes and Lee asked Mirkarimi to consider taking a leave of absence and the sheriff said he would consider it, said Christine Falvey, Lee's spokeswoman.

Falvey said Lee characterized "the meeting as being very serious as he continues to have some concerns."

Earlier Tuesday, Lee said that he would ask if Mirkarimi might consider taking a leave of absence because his case has become a "distraction."

Lee, who has the authority to suspend an elected officeholder for official misconduct and start removal proceedings, said he would leave any decisions up to the newly sworn-in sheriff.

"I'm not a political person, I don't put pressure on anybody," said Lee during a hastily arranged briefing. "This is a very serious matter, it's a criminal matter that's being done. Nobody wants to see a public official go through that."

Mirkarimi, 50, said Tuesday that he can do his job despite his legal troubles.

"I'm putting in well over 40 hours a week here in the office. It's not a straight 8-to-5 job," Mirkarimi said. "I make sure that at any time I am attending to issues that are not job related, I am back here."

The sheriff also added that he will not take pay while he is in trial and also would recuse himself from any disciplinary cases in the sheriff's department.

Mirkarimi is scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 24 on charges that he bruised the right arm of his wife, former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez, during a New Year's Eve incident at the couple's home.

Mirkarimi has pleaded not guilty to charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. He denies the allegations and has vowed not to resign.

According to an arrest affidavit, Mirkarimi is alleged to have mistreated his wife on two separate occasions last year and to have told her he was a "very powerful" man who could take away their son.

Lopez, 36, appeared on a Jan. 1 videotape candidly discussing the Dec. 31 confrontation and another incident earlier last year, according to the affidavit.

The footage was shot by a neighbor, Ivory Madison, whose call to police prompted an investigation. Lopez is crying and visibly upset about the couple's run-in the day before, the affidavit said, and she points to a bruise on her right bicep where she said Mirkarimi grabbed her.

Lopez has since told a judge that she is not afraid of her husband. Mirkarimi is due back in court on Thursday seeking to modify or remove the judge's order to stay away from his wife and their 2-year-old son, Theo.

Mirkarimi's attorney, Robert Waggener, said Tuesday that his client is looking forward to the case heading to trial.

"The way that this case is being tried in the press is becoming a bit more difficult, but we'll get our day in court," Waggener said.

The mayor's comments and subsequent meeting with Mirkarimi came two days after a new complaint was filed by a former girlfriend alleging a similar incident when she was dating Mirkarimi before he was married.

Christina Flores, told police Sunday that the newly elected sheriff shoved her against a wall and bruised her left arm at his home at least three years ago. A former television talk show host, Flores said Mikarimi went on verbal tirades several times and she wanted authorities to know his alleged abusive behavior was not an isolated occurrence.

"If I need to testify, I will," Flores told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

When asked about Flores' allegations, Mirkarimi said Tuesday, "I'm going to fight it."

Waggener said Tuesday that the latest accusation is overblown.

"Mr. Mirkarimi did have a relationship with her, he was single at the time and it ended poorly," Waggener said. "He was not abusive in any way toward her."

Waggener said he does not know why Flores filed a police report many years after the alleged incident.

"Obviously, there was a delay in her reporting," Waggener said. "I don't have a reason for her timing and motivation."

Waggener added that he doesn't expect anybody else making similar accusations against the sheriff.

"This is the craziest thing I have ever seen. This case was launched in the press and then I get calls to respond to what's going on next," Waggener said. "It is an odd situation that gets even odder with each day."

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