RICHMOND — Former Virginia delegate Joseph D. Morrissey said Wednesday for the first time publicly that he is the father of a baby from a relationship with a young woman with whom he was accused of having sex when she was a minor.
Morrissey, 57, said the baby boy, 9-week-old Chase, was conceived when the woman was 18. Last year, Morrissey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with their relationship — but denied the original charges.
“I woke up this morning and the first person I kissed was Chase, my son,” Morrissey said on “The Jack Gravely Show” on WLEE (990 AM). The baby’s mother, 19-year-old Myrna Pride, accompanied him in the studio.
The Washington Post typically does not identify victims of sexual crimes, but Pride, who said she is now 19, gave The Post her permission to be named. She declined further comment until a news conference set for Thursday afternoon.
The announcement came days after Morrissey released a photograph of himself, the baby and Pride, with whom he remains in a relationship. He said the picture was taken on Mother’s Day in Virginia Beach.
“I am as engaged in Chase’s life as a man could be. I’m super proud of Chase, and I love Myrna,” he said. Morrissey said he has been “changing poopy diapers, giving him milk. I make it sound like a chore. I love it!”
Morrissey created a stir last winter when he reported for duty as a member of the House of Delegates while also serving a six-month jail term following his guilty plea. Because he had been accepted into a work-release program, Morrissey could leave the jail during the day and return at night.
Morrissey says he plans to run for state Senate as an independent but has not yet filed the necessary paperwork. The deadline is June 9.
Despite a long history of legal skirmishes, starting 20 years ago with a courthouse fistfight, voters continue to send him back to the Capitol.
Almost a year ago, Morrissey was charged with multiple felonies in connection with allegedly having sex with Pride — while she was 17 and a receptionist at his law firm — and sharing nude photos of her. At the time, Morrissey and Pride denied any wrongdoing and accused her ex-girlfriend of hacking their phones to frame them.
Morrissey in December agreed to a plea deal on the misdemeanor charge in which he admitted no guilt and avoided conviction on the felony charges.
He agreed to serve a six-month jail term that was reduced to a 90-day work-release sentence. He resigned from the House as a Democrat and later declared himself an independent candidate for his old seat. After easily winning back his seat, he was stripped of his committee assignments. He left office this year to run for state Senate.
Morrissey traveled to Georgia for the child’s birth in March, and on Easter Sunday he and Pride pushed a baby carriage down Monument Avenue during the annual Easter on Parade event in Richmond. Until Wednesday, Morrissey never explicitly admitted he was the father.
Morrissey’s admission of paternity does not necessarily expose him to further legal charges, because, according to him, Pride was no longer a minor when the child was conceived.
He could, however, still face perjury charges related to a second indictment alleging that he submitted a forged document as evidence and lied under oath in the earlier case. A judge threw out the four-count felony indictment last month, but Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, is appealing that decision.
On Wednesday, in response to a radio caller critical of Morrissey’s behavior, he said: “We had our baby. We love our baby, and if that is concerning to him, I think what he should focus on is I’m going to do everything I can to engage Chase for the rest of my life.”