Jon Jacobo post

On Friday, Sasha Perigo published online a lengthy and detailed rape allegation against Jon Jacobo, a prominent Mission politico and community activist. 

And, while online accusations of sexual misconduct are increasingly common, the level of detail recounted within Perigo’s seven-page narrative is not common: It included screenshots of text messages, contemporaneous written discussions regarding the alleged April assault, medical records, a rape kit, and a police report. 

District Attorney spokeswoman Rachel Marshall confirmed that the DA’s office is investigating this case in cooperation with the police. Perigo said that both a representative of the San Francisco Police Department and DA Chesa Boudin himself have contacted her since Friday to discuss her options. 

Perigo, a housing activist who is well known in local political circles, has stated she does not wish to press charges against the man she once considered a close friend. But, with these allegations — and their underlying evidence — now in the public sphere, that may be out of her hands. 

“The decision on whether to file charges is exclusively with the prosecutor — exclusively,” explained retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell. “Victims don’t file charges. And victims cannot stop prosecutors from filing charges.” 

“We prosecute violent crimes even without witness cooperation when we can prove the case,” said Marshall. 

Multiple legal experts contacted by Mission Local opined that the level of detail included within Perigo’s public accusation already met or exceeded the standard of “probable cause” required for police to make an arrest. Probable cause “is not a very high burden,” said Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School and former federal prosecutor. “It doesn’t even mean more likely than not. It’s just a strong suspicion.” 

A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson stated that “the Special Victims Unit is aware of the social media posting and is looking into the matter.” 

Compared to the police, prosecutors, however, face a far higher burden: whether they can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a difficult standard to meet without the active participation of the accuser — in this case, Perigo. But, legal experts continued, the evidence she has already publicly presented mitigates her reticence to push for criminal charges. 

Perigo’s public statements “are of great assistance to the prosecution,” Levenson said, “and probably make it easier to prosecute, even if the victim does not wish to move forward.”

Under California evidence law, Levenson noted, “You are able to use prior statements. They don’t have to have been made in proper proceedings or under oath. She has done a lot of the prosecution’s work.” 

Since Perigo filed a police report, legally, a police officer’s testimony can even be used on her behalf, said S.F. State criminal justice lecturer and retired SFPD veteran Jim Dudley.  

While prosecuting crimes over the objections of the alleged victims is not par for the course, it’s hardly unheard of — especially in the realm of domestic violence. These crimes were once categorized as a personal or family matter, but they are now widely handled as a crime against the public. 

Prosecutions in such cases are not only meant to bring accountability to an abuser for his or her crimes against an individual victim, but to protect society at large. 

Perigo told Mission Local that she would be “very upset if [the DA] were to go forward without my cooperation.” If, however, additional accusers materialized, she would “absolutely cooperate.” In her original Twitter post, Perigo called for accusers to contact her if they had experienced anything similar with Jacobo. 

Perigo offered multiple reasons for not wanting to take further legal action: She believes the community is now well informed of Jacobo’s alleged actions and she doesn’t believe incarceration can effectively rehabilitate offenders. At this point, she said, the community and those who love and care about Jacobo are responsible for holding him accountable. 

Jacobo, who has not yet returned calls from Mission Local, has stated that his memory of the event differs from Perigo’s, and he believed their encounter to be consensual. 

While relations between the SFPD and DA are fraught — and the police could put Boudin on the spot with a quick arrest of Jacobo, a noted police critic — legal experts doubted this would come to pass. 

Rather, they foresaw a more thorough investigation that could, potentially, uncover more evidence from more sources — and, if so, potentially give Perigo time to change her mind.

Retired judge Cordell laid out several possibilities, including Boudin potentially opting to convene a grand jury. Ultimately, she said, the decision to move forward or not lies with the county prosecutor. 

Complicating matters, however, Jacobo is a well-known figure in San Francisco political circles. He was an active volunteer in Boudin’s successful 2019 run for office. Marshall did not answer questions about whether Boudin would recuse his office from a potential prosecution, and instead request involvement from the state attorney general. 

We are living in a social media world now’

Prior to Perigo’s Friday accusations, Jon Jacobo was a man on the ascent. The vice president of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, Jacobo had played a prominent public role in the Latino Task Force’s successful and lauded campaign to aid, feed, test and vaccinate Mission denizens during the pandemic. He was a member of the Department of Building Inspection’s Building Inspection Committee — a role he has since resigned from — and a touted potential aspirant to be the next District 9 supervisor. 

Separate and apart from the validity of Perigo’s allegations, political observers were shocked at the rapidity in which Jacobo’s prospects have been extinguished. 

So were legal observers. 

Tweets from Jon Jacobo Friday evening.

“We are living in a social media world now, where if you want to put your story out there, you don’t have to go through the court system to do it anymore,” said Cordell. 

This was seen as both an indictment of a legal system that has further traumatized alleged victims while coddling abusers, and an alarming new normal in which lives can be made or unmade with the click of a button, with little in the way of checks and balances.

Why make your case on social media in the court of public opinion rather than in a real court? Because “the criminal justice system does not function,” sums up Hadar Aviram, a law professor at UC Hastings. 

While the Sixth Amendment provides the accused the right to an impartial trial, Aviram continued, trial by social media eliminates that. It also, however, eliminates alleged victims suffering the bruising experience of being defamed during cross-examination and having their morals and credibility publicly questioned. 

Even after the conventional legal process, many alleged offenders are never convicted due to a lack of sufficient evidence. And, as Perigo has overtly stated, many victims do not feel a sense of healing after the incarceration of their alleged abusers. 

“Our system even in the best of times is daunting. It can take a year or two to go through the court process. You have a victim waiting, waiting, waiting,” said Cathy Garcia, a former police detective and DA investigator in San Diego. “Some people need their day in court,” while others prefer to have the public decide the offender’s fate. 

Perigo says her social media post was meant to give her some closure, both by shifting public opinion of Jacobo and also simply getting the experience off of her chest. 

She plans to seek redress from the California Victims Compensation Board, which can help provide healthcare and recoup lost wages for victims of various crimes. This, she says, would not have been possible without filing a police report.  

Alternative Accountability

Legal observers are uneasy with this new normal, which is seen as a double-edged sword. 

“One of the things the #MeToo movement is offering is that an incredible amount of accountability or revenge — which it is, depends on your perspective — occurs outside of the criminal justice system, in the public square,” said Aviram. “We are learning to reckon that there are now other ways to put people on the spot and expose what people have done outside the criminal process.” 

Even if there are certain benefits to following a legal process after a crime is committed, in the case of sexual assault, pursuing that recourse without a victim’s consent may cause even further harm to a victim. While Perigo has received much public support, she said that the public scrutiny over just the last few days has been in many ways retraumatizing. 

“Rape, in addition to other things, is fundamentally a denial of someone’s autonomy over their body,” says David Ball, a law professor at Santa Clara University. “If this woman is saying, ‘I did not consent to the sexual activity that took place,’ moving ahead with prosecution without her consent seems, in some ways, to replicate that damage.” 

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Eleni Balakrishnan

Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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24 Comments

  1. Why hasn’t Jon Jacobo resigned from Calle24, the Latino Task Force, and TODCO? Calle24 and the Latino Task Force get grants from the city, $500k each last year. And he’s the Director of Community Engagement and Public Policy at TODCO, a well-connected and politically engaged housing nonprofit. Do any of these organizations seriously think he can work with the public? I wouldn’t want to go a community meeting featuring Mr. Jacobo, and I imagine that many survivors wouldn’t, either.

  2. Campers,

    Y’all toss the word ‘victim’ around as tho it is the exclusive providence of the accuser, Sasha.

    I believe Jacobo is the actual victim along with the SF Progressive community.

    I think this was a carefully hatched plan to bring down a rising Progressive star and for now it has worked.

    I also, as does Joe, sorely await more witnesses to come forward.

    I think a serious investigation will leave Sasha and her friends deep in the Yimby stew.

    Summing it up, Sasha has two witnesses with names and two who are ‘anonymous’.

    She phoned the first Kamlina to tell her she was headed over to Jaobo’s just before she left.

    Later Kamlina moaned at length about how shocked she was about the alleged violence perpetrated against her friend (or, ‘co-conspirator’ if you believe my suppositions) …

    However, does she really feel thataway?

    Here’s a song she cut for a Punk Band about her true feelings on sexual violence …

    https://soundcloud.com/ratherbright/centerfold

    Note the key lines:

    “Fight back, fight back, baby you know I like that.
    I take what I want. You’re my little Centerfold.”

    Her other witness (Peacock) attacked Jane Kim when Kim ran against Wiener.

    That’s the only two ‘witnesses’ who are talking.

    Seeing a trend?

    Let’s put that investigation into high gear.

    “Fight back, fight back, baby you know I like that.”

    ????

    Go Giants!

    h.

    1. @H Brown – You post on basically every local news story that comes out. Usually, I find your comments interesting or at least whimsically entertaining. However, this comment is disgusting. Not everything needs to be viewed through the jaded lens of “progressive vs moderate.” The fact that that is the only way you can understand this situation is quite illuminating. To accuse someone fabricating their own assault, just to “take down” a low level local politico is beyond the pale. This story may have a lot left to uncover but your take is horrendous and I hope you reexamine how you think about the world.

      1. h. – The victim is as progressive as the perp, maybe even more so. No conspiracy theory here.

  3. Jacobo is part of the extortionist Mission District non-profit muscle that flexes on Real Estate Developers for donations or consultant fees in exchange for local support of their project.

    He’s a political scumbag; but I’m concerned with how this scenario has played out.

    I’m extremely uncomfortable with the direction Perigo chose to go with this situation. In making an accusation via social media, and refusing to pursue any legal avenues, Jacobo has no real way of defending himself. Her viral rape allegation is considered fact. This essentially makes her account of the events impervious to challenge. Journalist have standards; they can’t convict alleged suspects before they’re found guilty in a court of law. That’s why we have trials; so that allegations are proven. Jacobo has already been convicted in the court of public opinion.

    That should concern anyone.

  4. This was a really informative article on the legalities of moving forward.

    I disagree with what seems to be the author’s endorsement (however tepid) of making these charges on social media and not following through.

    > This was seen as both an indictment of a legal system that has further traumatized alleged victims while coddling abusers

    “victims” and “abusers” is good for:

    1) family and close friends who understand they entire situation

    and bad for:

    2) society which needs a legal determination

    and so

    3) making these charges public and scorching an individual in society in order to escape the legal determination is just bogus and should not be endorsed.

    ——-

    And assuming guilt, not everyone Jacobo meets will be aware of his past, however many walls it has been painted on. Assuming guilt, Mission Local does little to help Jacobo’s future victims by endorsing an act that would prevent legal actions against him.

    —–

    That said, this really was an informative article about the legalities of moving forward without Perigo’s consent.

  5. Its very sad to see Jon’s life ruined over this. If she is doing all this, I think she should go forward and file charges. Also who lives their life on Twitter and posts about who they make out with after saying you are raped and every thing going on? She impresses me as someone who really thrives on attention. She didn’t get Jon’s the way she wanted, so she figured out some way to get vigilante justice is what it seems like without filing. She should also take responsibility as she had slept with him before and came over at midnight to drink all night and sleep in his bed after cuddling. I respect that she did not get the consent she wanted, but these lines seem very blurry considering their past relationship.

    1. Pish: the only thing you forgot to do is ask what kind of clothing she was wearing.

      Your comment is disgusting.

  6. Neither of these individuals can remotely be described as activists. They are mercenaries, compensated advocates, who are not bound to any discernible political values, not like “those nut cases,” but will do whatever they’re paid to as they advance their professional progressive careers. They’ve made the career choice of “progressive.”

    I mean, is it possible to draw a more corrupt hand than DBI and TODCO and Calle24? That portfolio speaks to how the corrupt direct their resources towards fashioning political personages who will not need to be told to pay them back.

    The substantive matters at hand now are personal, not political matters, between the two individuals and the DA.

    The public will have to wait and see if Perigo gets the Vasilyeva consideration from the Mayor for services rendered or not.

  7. I always visit my ex-boyfriends at midnight to drink, to flirt, and to cuddle. After they repeatedly grope me and attempt to masturbate near me, I insist on sleeping over. I’m very smart. I’m a socialist, but I am frightened of taking a cab or a Lyft home by myself. I startle easily, unless you attempt to jack off near me (that kind of behavior just brings me closer to you, that’s the kind of behavior that I lean into) . No means no and Jacobo is to blame, but I won’t take any responsibility for any of my choices at all. My message to all young girls: go ahead, head to your exes’ homes in the middle of the night, get drunk, twirl your hair, ask to cuddle. These are all very smart decisions. These aren’t moronic things to do that practically invite generational trauma for your future descendants, no.

    1. Brutal.
      Kudos to Mission Local for not moderating out a “different” perspective.
      For anybody else who finds themselves in a predicament, you can call Yellow Cab at 415-333-3333. No App needed and your taxi will arrive in a timely fashion.
      Heck – used this methodology just last Saturday.
      Oh yeah – yesterday too.
      Couldn’t have been simpler.

    2. And yet still “no” means “no”. None of what you describe, Ellen, allows a man to de-pant a woman and penetrate her without her consent.

    3. The point being that women should not have to take steps to avoid rape, but given the reality of the misogynist world we live in, women unfortunately must own their own self-defense and safety because most all times, that’s all they’ve got on their side.

      Part of doing feminist politics is creating the post-patriarchal world. But that work has been put on hold until the business of calling out and cancelling anyone who types an inappropriate phoneme on social media has been completed. Any day now.

      When you take the already incendiary mix of money and politics and irresponsibly add sex to that, then sexual assaults like this takes on political lives of their own.

  8. This presents a real conundrum on how justice is to be best served from this point.

    Myrna Melgar and Ani Rivera stated in their “Yo Tambien” post: “The system places the burden on the victim to pursue justice . Let me state unequivocally that this is crap.”

    I’m left wondering how that sentiment will sit if the DA brings charges against Jacobo? And what precedent will be set if the DA declines to bring charges?

  9. Hey RL E

    Got your pic hung in my hallway from the Angela Alioto fundraiser my daughter hosted at my crib.

    Come over some Saturday afternoon for Salon and check out my place.

    I’m dying and it is a museum of my family with pics and documents going back to the manifest of the good ship, ‘Protection’ which brought my great great great grandpa here from Belfast in 1811.

    Best to you and gimme a call.

    h.

  10. I am shocked; i feel Jon had way too much to lose to have committed such an act of violence. Dumb to have pursued woman only on looks and clearly a shallow guy. It appears there is something politically fishy on both parts but if she was really raped, I hope he gets what he deserves. As much as I believe in justice #metoo movement lacks intersectionality and feels like the first wave of feminism; i don’t believe a white woman who slept over an ex lovers house who happens to be a man of color and a rising figure in the community, would have been raped soberly after a night of drinking, especially if she was saying no as he took her pants off…. If she felt uncomfortable from the night before, why would she not have text her therapist to call someone for her? Called a friend? I want to believe that no one would fake this.

  11. Mission local should had investigated the story more before crucified him. My personal opinion is that people check their own behavior and boundaries when it comes to alcohol and drug consumption, it has consequences and distorts decision making.

  12. This is bad all around because both are important members of the community who have people that look up to them and we need folks like them to represent and carry out our community’s best interests yet we don’t know what happens behind the scenes. I believe Sasha but I see a hole in her story which can be easily justified but none the less if charges are pressed, she will need to be a witness even if she doesn’t want to proceed: why did she stay at his place the night before when the unsolicited groping and kissing started? If he’s a rapist, why didn’t he rape her when she was intoxicated? I’m not saying that her account of that night is not true but it raises some questions that need to be answered.

  13. She said “no”. Punto.
    It doesn’t matter if she had drinks with him.
    It doesn’t matter if she previously had a consensual sexual relationship with him.
    It doesn’t matter if she decided to stay over his place.
    None of the above matter.
    She said “no”. And that is what matters.

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