Blogger Accused Of Photographing Supervisor In City Hall Bathroom Pleads Not Guilty
A blogger accused of taking a picture of San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener in a City Hall bathroom in October pleaded not guilty today to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges.
Michael Petrelis, a gay rights activist who writes "The Petrelis Files" blog, allegedly snapped the photo of Wiener on Oct. 26 in a second-floor bathroom of City Hall and posted it on the blog the next day.
Petrelis wrote that he tried to take a photo of Wiener as he stood at a urinal, but the time it took for his camera to focus allowed the supervisor "enough time for him to put away his wiener and zip up."
He wrote, "The only photo I caught was of him grabbing his toothbrush from the wash basin. He sighed heavily and with exasperation having to not only have to interact with me, but in a restroom and with a camera going off."
Petrelis, who surrendered to sheriff's deputies on Nov. 29 after a warrant was issued for his arrest, made his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court today and was ordered by Judge Donna Alyson Little to stay at least 150 feet away from the supervisor.
Petrelis' attorney, Derek St. Pierre, argued against the stay-away order, saying there was "no threat of violence" and "no pattern of harassment" against Wiener but the judge disagreed.
Wiener has declined to comment about the case but provided a written statement to sheriff's deputies describing the incident and mentioning that Petrelis "has a history of inappropriate and harassing behavior" and "has yelled at me in public before as a result of our political disagreements."
Petrelis remains out of custody and will return to court on Jan. 7 for a pre-trial conference.
St. Pierre said outside of court that the case is "fundamentally about a photograph of a gentleman at a sink."
Petrelis declined to speak to reporters, and St. Pierre said, "Just as you see his mouth shut, that's effectively what the stay-away order will do."
He said, "It makes it very difficult for Mr. Petrelis to continue on as a journalist."
District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday that Petrelis' alleged behavior was "very, very inappropriate" and "completely trespasses the social boundary of decency and good sense."
Gascon said, "It is OK for robust political engagement, it's OK to disagree ... it is not OK to invade people's privacy in a way that occurred in this particular case."
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