Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has portrayed violence against his wife, Eliana Lopez, as a one-time mistake that made him immediately remorseful over its impact upon his family. But as The City’s Ethics Commission continues considering tonight whether Mirkarimi should be permanently removed from office, his next-door neighbors present a much different view of the family’s relationship.
The neighboring couple spoke with Lopez as her family life deteriorated, and they now say in sworn court statements that she complained on several occasions about a pattern of verbal abuse and child neglect inside a fear-ridden household, in which money for food and clothes was sometimes withheld by a heavy-handed Mirkarimi.
The insider accounts come from neighbors Abraham Mertens and Ivory Madison — the onetime friend of Lopez and a Mirkarimi political supporter who first took Lopez’s complaints to police, just days before the newly elected sheriff was inaugurated.
Lopez has since supported her husband, even after he pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor false imprisonment against her.
Mertens describes the Mirkarimi household as a “bachelor’s home” with none of Lopez’s possessions visible, even though she had lived there for two years.
“The house was dark and gloomy, with shutters on the windows, and female nude photography on the walls that Eliana said Ross refused to take down,” Mertens wrote in his declaration.
Although Lopez now describes her marriage problems as conventional, Madison’s account of her complaints paints a dismal picture of the couple that married quietly after Lopez suddenly became pregnant when she first met Mirkarimi during a 2008 environmental conference in Brazil.
“She said ‘he makes me beg for gas money, for money for food, for clothes for Theo, for everything,’” Madison wrote.
Lopez and her 3-year-old son, Theo, are currently staying with family in Venezuela, where Mirkarimi now wants to visit, pending permission from a judge, according to court documents filed last week. And although Mirkarimi has publicly called Theo his “reason for living,” Madison’s sworn declaration says Lopez avoided leaving the boy home alone with his father, who had only spent time alone with his son “perhaps an hour per month, here and there, over the course of Theo’s entire life.”
In one account to Madison, Lopez said Mirkarimi was left alone with Theo for two hours, which she called a “nightmare.”
“I found Theo all wet, shoes, socks, pants, diaper, completely wet sleeping in the car at 8 p.m.,” says Madison’s recounting of Lopez’s story. “When I asked: did you feed him? Ross did not have any answer. So I took Theo from the car seat and he was so weak, I changed his clothes and when I tried to feed him he just vomit over me pieces of food and a lot water.”
She also has lambasted Madison, even threatening to go after her legally for contacting police, in violation of what she says she considered attorney-client confidentiality. Madison holds a law degree but isn’t licensed to practice, and she claims she never portrayed herself to Lopez as an attorney.