San Francisco police inspector John Keane received a phone call Jan. 4 from a woman who wanted to report an incident of domestic violence involving her neighbor. It would soon become clear this wasn’t an ordinary call — the woman had information that would rock San Francisco’s political establishment and possibly ruin a man’s career.
After the caller asked if police would investigate something that happened four days earlier, she let out the bombshell: She wanted to report an incident involving the wife of sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi, a twice-elected member of the Board of Supervisors, according to Keane’s search warrant affidavit.
She then identified herself as Ivory Madison and said she had proof: video of Eliana Lopez, Mirkarimi’s wife, displaying a bruise on her upper right arm. Lopez, a former soap opera star in Venezuela, had asked Madison to make the video and told her neighbor she sustained the injury during an argument with Mirkarimi, according to police.
With that phone call, Madison — a comic book writer who focuses on strong female superheroes — became a pivotal character in a political drama that has gripped The City.
Madison’s motive for calling police has been the subject of much debate. Mirkarimi, who has denied the allegations of domestic abuse, at one point suggested nefarious political forces behind the scandal. In an interview with a Venezuelan radio station Tuesday, Lopez — who has publicly denied being abused by her husband — suggested the sheriff was a victim of dirty politics and questioned Madison’s reasons for going to the police. Lopez said the two women had met because Madison has a child who is the same age as Lopez’s son, Theo.
“I talked to her and told her I had a discussion on New Year’s Eve with my husband — not even a discussion with yelling or anything like that — and she immediately used that against us,” Lopez said, adding that lawyers were trying to find out “who is working behind” Madison.
Madison has not responded to several requests for interviews. She describes herself as a nonpracticing lawyer and a “radical feminist politico” in her bio on Redroom.com, the online writers’ social network she founded. Madison has written for DC Comics characters such as The Huntress, a heroine whom Batman fears for being too violent and unpredictable.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lopez told Madison she wanted her to make a video of her injuries “just in case [Mirkarimi] wants to take Theo away from me because he … said that he is very powerful and can do it.” After calling police, Madison refused to turn over the video because she had promised Lopez she wouldn’t give it to authorities. Police later obtained a search warrant to seize the video, along with text messages and emails between Madison and Lopez.
Contrary to suggestions that Madison is working for Mirkarimi’s enemies, the writer supported his bid for sheriff. She co-hosted a fundraiser for Mirkarimi and donated $500 to his campaign.
Beverly Upton, head of a domestic violence consortium asking the sheriff to step aside until his court case concludes, said it was brave of Madison to come forward to report the incident to police. Upton said Madison is unfairly being painted by Mirkarimi’s supporters as a politically motivated troublemaker.
“I think they’re trying to scare her and I think it’s working,” Upton said. “What a shame. The whole city should be ashamed.”
Who is Ivory Madison?
- DC Comics comic book writer for The Huntress
- Founder of Redroom.com, an online writers’ social network
- Holder of a law degree
- Political views: Self-described “radical feminist politico.” Donated to Ross Mirkarimi’s campaign for sheriff, along with district attorney candidate Sharmin Bock’s campaign and mayoral candidate Joanna Rees
- Quotable: “Historical context is everything. I identify with the Huntress I grew up reading as a kid, a radical ’70s feminist who was breaking rules to fight for justice every way she could. That’s probably why I went to law school, who knows.”
Sources: Redroom.com, S.F. Ethics Commission