Joseph D. Morrissey is turning it over to God, he announced at church Sunday. Yes, at church. And yes, he’s the four-term delegate who is considering serving in the Virginia legislature by day and reporting to jail at night.
Morrissey (D-Henrico) entered an Alford plea last week to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Investigators said the 57-year-old legislator was having sex with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law firm, had nude pictures of her on his phone and allegedly showed them to a pal of his. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t have to admit wrongdoing, but does admit that there is enough evidence for a conviction. The court treats it as a guilty plea.
When he was charged this summer, Morrissey proclaimed his innocence. He said his phone and the girl’s phone were hacked, and the photos and the trail of text messages between them were planted.
And that time when her father tipped off police that his underage daughter was at her much older boss’s house at midnight? Well, the young woman was summoned to Morrissey’s home to discuss a “very sensitive legal matter,” one of the attorneys in the case said.
According to court documents, Morrissey texted a friend of his: “Hey, buddy, I just [had intercourse with] her on my conference table and again on the floor for good measure!”
Detectives said they found 15 nude pictures of the young receptionist on his phone. Wow, what a hack.
This stinks worse than the 19 socks I just found stashed in my son’s gym bag.
After the Alford plea, Morrissey was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. But here’s the really crazy part. My colleague Rachel Weiner reports that his work-release arrangement would allow him not only to continue practicing law, but also to write legislation in the General Assembly.
Unless, of course, he does the right thing and resigns.
On Sunday, Morrissey — who crows about his church affiliation in his official bio — prepped everyone for a big announcement at New Kingdom Christian Ministries in Richmond. Everyone thought he would announce he was stepping down. But when he finally spoke to reporters, he said resigning “may or may not be the correct thing to do. Let God make that decision.”
He actually said that. Here’s my thought: No need to bother God with this one.
I think the legislature can make this call. His fellow Democrats — from the governor to the attorney general — are demanding that he scram. (I don’t have to say Republicans are telling him to git either, right?) House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) said that his caucus was “actively exploring all available options, including removal.”
Henrico voters have forgiven Morrissey’s colorful past before. During his legal career — as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney — his law license was suspended and then revoked for a decade. He has already spent time behind bars. In 1991, he did five days for punching a defense attorney in the face during a heroin trial.
I suspect the voters’ patience might have run out.
Does the name Anthony Weiner ring a bell? The Democratic congressman from New York resigned after his texting scandal (also first described as a hacking incident) in 2011. When he tried to make a political comeback and run for mayor of New York, voters told him “No, thank you.”
Morrissey’s arrogance comes at a pretty bad time for Virginia.
The escapades of this single father of three daughters from three different women (two daughters are older than the receptionist) came about the same time that former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) threw his wife under the bus and lost in court on corruption charges during a long and operatic trial this summer. McDonnell could have pleaded guilty to one charge, avoided the prosecution of his wife and faced no more than three years in prison.
But no, he stayed. And now the U.S. Probation Office is recommending 10 years in prison. Still no word on what his wife, Maureen McDonnell, will face.
Please help Virginia out here, Morrissey. Put an end to this disastrous political year for the state and give voters the best present possible.
Just. Go. Away.
8For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.