RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia legislator was indicted Monday on charges that he had an improper sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, 56, of Henrico County faces felony charges of indecent liberties with a minor, possession and distribution of child pornography, and electronic solicitation of a minor. He also is charged with a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
According to court papers, Morrissey and the girl had sex multiple times at the legislator’s law office in August 2013, and both texted their friends about the encounter. The next morning, Morrissey texted the girl and asked for “a nude photograph of her to help him fantasize about their next encounter.” The girl sent a nude photo that Morrissey sent to a friend, the court papers say, adding that police have recovered the messages and the photo.
Morrissey’s attorneys issued a written statement calling the allegations “baseless and without any factual support.”
Morrissey, a Democrat, is a former Richmond prosecutor who has served in the House of Delegates since 2008.
A Henrico County Circuit Court special grand jury was convened after a man called police last August to check on the welfare of his 17-year-old daughter. Police found the girl with Morrissey at the legislator’s home. The girl and Morrissey denied any impropriety.
Morrissey’s attorney, Anthony Troy, said at the time that the girl worked in Morrissey’s law office and that she had gone to her boss’s home for advice about family problems. He said there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship.
The girl’s mother also said through an attorney last year that she knew about her daughter’s visit to Morrissey’s home and that nothing improper occurred.
“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,” Troy and four other attorneys for Morrissey said in Monday’s written statement.
Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney William Neely, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case, said in a written statement that he convened the grand jury because the girl’s mother “had been less than cooperative with the police investigation and had given conflicting and contradictory statements to police.”
Morrissey is no stranger to controversy. His law license was revoked in 2003 after he had been cited for contempt 10 times and was jailed or forcibly detained for misconduct five times, according to court papers. He was suspended from practicing law three times. The Virginia Supreme Court reinstated his license in 2012.
Associated Press Writer Larry O’Dell contributed to this report.
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