RICHMOND — Virginia Del. Joseph D. Morrissey was present for the birth of a boy whose teen mother is at the center of two criminal cases against the lawmaker.
The delegate, who recently made headlines for serving in the General Assembly during the day and returning to a county jail at night, was accused of having sex with the young woman, who is now 18, while she was a minor and a receptionist at his law office.
Morrissey (I-Henrico), 57, said he flew to Georgia for the birth, but he would not confirm prosecutors’ speculation that he is “perhaps” the father. The young woman “gave birth to a beautiful healthy 7-pound 8-ounce boy. [She] is absolutely thrilled and so am I,” he said.
Asked why he wouldn’t share the boy’s paternity or name, he said: “It’s not just Joe Morrissey; there are other people’s lives to take into consideration.” The lawmaker, who is not married, has three daughters, ages 2, 27 and 29.
Adding another wrinkle to his complicated political saga, Morrissey declined to say whether he will seek reelection to his House seat this year — even though his law office will host an announcement Tuesday by Leonidas B. “Lee” Young that he will run for Morrissey’s seat.
Morrissey has hinted at plans to run for the state Senate in the past, but he declined to say Monday what he will do.
“I have made my decision,” he said. “I am not announcing what I’m going to do yet. I know exactly what I’m doing. I’ll let my plans be known within 10 days.”
A former Richmond mayor and City Council member, Young, 60, served two years in federal prison for selling his influence and later had his voting rights restored.
“I think people are forgiving. It happened 15 years ago. Since that time, I’ve been working hard in the community to help the underprivileged. I think the district in particular has a heart. . . . Morrissey’s reelection is a case in point,” said Young, who is a pastor.
In December, Morrissey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Voters in the district — which spans eastern Henrico County, Charles City County and a small part of Richmond — sent him back to the legislature as an independent in a January special election.
Later in January, four new felony charges were unsealed in a second criminal indictment against Morrissey, alleging that he presented forged documents in the original case. A trial date is set for next month. Morrissey has denied wrongdoing.
In addition to Young, Lamont Bagby, a member of the Henrico County School Board, and David Lambert, son of late longtime state senator Benjamin J. Lambert III, have said they plan to run for the seat as Democrats.
Morrissey has not formally endorsed anyone, but he said: “I very much respect Lee Young for all he’s done in the last 15 years. Redemption is good for the soul.”
(Note: An earlier headline incorrectly stated the teen was accused in the case. The headline has been changed.)