Attorneys call Joe Morrissey’s sex charges a ‘vendetta’

RICHMOND, Va. — Hours after news of his indictment on sex charges involving a teenage girl broke, Delegate Joe Morrissey turned himself in to deputies at the Henrico County Jail just before six Monday evening.

He was booked and released on personal recognizance and will most likely face a circuit court judge Tuesday morning.

Attorneys for Morrissey held a press conference on Monday evening, publicly defending the state lawmaker by calling the felony counts against him “baseless” and “without any factual support.”

A special grand jury indicted Morrissey (D-Henrico) Monday morning on five charges including supervisory indecent liberties with a minor, electronic solicitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“The charges essentially involve having sex with her at his law office while she was an employee, electronically soliciting  photos from her, possession of child porn, and distribution, for sharing it with a friend,” said Special Prosecutor William Neely.

Neely specifies in the indictment that Morrissey sent text messages to the underage girl confirming their sexual liaison the night before and soliciting a nude photograph  of her to help him fantasize about their next encounter.

Prosecutors said the teen responded with a naked photo of herself, which prosecutors said Morrissey then sent to a friend.

Investigators say it appears the girl lied about her age to land the job.  They say she claimed she was 22.  But Neely said they have further evidence that the law office and staff knew her true age prior to the August 20th alleged sexual encounter.

“This is the first time in the history of the commonwealth that we are aware of a person being indicted for an offense that the alleged victim and her family plainly stated did not occur,” said attorney Amy Austin.

Austin claims the allegations stem from a personal and ongoing vendetta against Del. Morrissey which goes back 20 years.  She says special prosecutor William Neely wrote a letter to the Virginia State Bar in 2011 opposing Del. Morrissey’s readmission to the practice of law after he lost his license in 2003.

Neely wrote “Morrissey’s notoriously unethical practices as the former CA in Richmond were a disgrace to all Virginia prosecutors.  Morrissey’s later and even more outrageously deceitful conduct as a defense attorney is ever better documented,” Neely claimed.

Neely defended himself on Monday saying the judge who appointed him to the case was well aware of the letter and its content.

“I did not seek that appointment and the judge ruled back in February that letter does not constitute a vendetta or any misconduct on my part,” Neely said.

CBS 6 spoke with attorney David Baugh, who also petitioned against Morrissey getting his law license back in 2011.  Baugh was punched in the face by Morrissey outside a Richmond courtroom in 1991 while the two served as opposing counsel during a trial.

Despite their once contentious relationship, Baugh defended Morrissey on Monday and questioned the merit of the new charges.

Morrissey maintains that he did not have an inappropriate relationship with his then 17-year-old receptionist, even though he believed she was 22 while working in his law office.

“The idea of having a statute that says if you have intimate relations with someone who turns out to be too young, even if they misrepresent their age, even if they give you a false ID….without knowing that, you can have requisite intent and be a victim of a felony, that bothers me and that statute shouldn’t stand,” Baugh said.

“Any of these felonies, if convicted, would be a career-ender for him as a delegate,” said CBS-6 legal analyst Todd Stone.

Neely says convictions on the charges against Morrissey would add up to more than 30 years behind bars.  In addition, anyone convicted of such charges would have to register as a  sex offender.

18 comments

  • Mike

    It may indeed be a “vendetta,” a vendetta to reach the truth so many in Richmond circles have ignored for far too long. This clown is like Donald Sterling on steroids. A bully, a thug, and most of all, a pervert. His general attitude of harassment (sexual and otherwise) is well known, even to those who pay halfheated attention. Mr Neely was absolutly right to oppose Mr Morrissey’s readmission to practice. Everything in Mr Morrissey’s prior character and conduct suggests he would not only be capable of doing what he has now been charged with, but in fact highly likely to commit such criminal acts with calis disregard for the consequences.
    For a party so caught up in an often correct rhetorical national talking point about the war on women, Virginia Democrats need to take care of their own house before casting aspersions on anyone else. I have voted Democratic all my life, but today’s events crystallized things for me. I can not in good conscience vote Democrat for any state office until Morrissey resigns, and preferably, a la Donald Sterling, is banned by the party from ever being a member of the Democratic caucus going forward. If they won’t stand up to a known pervert in their own ranks, how can they be trusted at all? The only way to ensure they take swift action is to do what the NBA players did with Sterling, and make real threats not to play/vote for them until the issue is resolved correctly. After today, I now have the courage to follow though with withholding my vote until Democrats wise up. I encourage all my fellow Virginia Democrats to do the same. Enough is enough. We can excuse this pervert no more.

  • RVA_Viewpoint

    That’s a smart girl. She’s young and she managed to connect with a lawyer. There’ll be some money in it for her somewhere. She’s too young for alimony, but she still leveraged her money-maker at a very early age. Most women don’t learn how to do this until they are in their mid-20’s. Good for her.

      • RVA_Viewpoint

        No, I don’t hate women, I just know how the world works. I do hate lawyers though, if that helps any. They get paid to twist and misrepresent facts, and in some cases, flat out lie. I guess it’s no coincidence that most congressmen are lawyers.

  • survivor

    Is the judge that appointed Neely the same circuit court judge Morrisey put out there a while back for past questionable ethics in Henrico?

  • Steel Mill

    Fighting Joe…
    It all sounds very incriminating. If true (and I am not clear it is) it shows a remarkable lack of judgement.
    This really gives folks in Richmond to talk about!

  • reeltime

    Not sure of guilt or innocence but what is concerning, how does a law firm that deals in a lot of sensitive information allow a 17 yr old to misrepresent her age to be employed there. If any business has the resources to properly vet someone’s age, background,etc, you would think it would be a law firm. If I was a client during that perod I would have some serious concerns about the representation I received. Something doesn’t sound right.

  • me

    Repetitive, long standing, used and abused, SOP/MO/Mantra that any and all Democrats are posed as the poor, pitiful, victims of their own deliberate, decisive, actions, decisions, and life style choices. PC is so Easy. Blame everyone else.

  • Gypsy Gal

    How does a prosecutor offer a MISDEMEANOR deal, then jack the charges to 40 YEARS when the deal is not taken? Sounds to me like someone whose primary concern is NOT the so-called VICTIM, but rather, the vilification of Morrisey. If the Commonwealth’s allegations are true, why would he ever have been given the escape hatch of a misdemeanor/6month sentence. This fact just lends support for the belief that certain people just want Morrisey to go away. Get out of their sand box.Whether it be by misdemeanor conviction or felony, just go away. Believe me, 6 months and 40 years are NOT EVEN CLOSE, unless your goal is to get a conviction that will possibly take him out of the political arena. BOTTOM LINE: If you thought someone did acts worthy of 40 years in prison, how could you offer to work it out for a mere misdemeanor, which would likely mean less than 5 months in prison. I smell a RAT.

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