Henrico County police visited state Del. Joseph D. Morrissey’s law office Monday evening, hours before the Richmond Democrat is scheduled to face voters in Tuesday’s special election, the delegate confirmed.
Morrissey said the police were executing a search warrant, but he declined to offer details. Neither police nor prosecutors immediately responded to calls seeking comment; nor did they publicly confirm the reason for the search.
Morrissey was convicted last month on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The lawmaker maintained his innocence while entering a guilty plea to avoid a possible conviction on felony charges.
Prosecutors said the seven-year House of Delegates veteran, who represents a heavily Democratic swath of Richmond and its suburbs, had sex with his receptionist multiple times while she was underage. They have both denied the charges, claiming that her jealous ex-girlfriend hacked into their phones and sent a series of incriminating text messages.
As part of his defense, Morrissey said he had been helping the receptionist, who is now an adult, deal with a legal agreement that required her father to pay her child support. It was the woman’s father who called police the night she was found at Morrissey’s home; in court documents, the lawmaker’s lawyers said she was prepared to testify that she was there to discuss the child support issue.
The agreement has nothing to do with the woman’s unborn child, whom prosecutors have said in court documents is “perhaps” Morrissey’s.
Morrissey told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the police who showed up at his office Monday were looking for the child-support agreement. The father has claimed that the agreement is forged — an allegation that may explain what Morrissey called the police’s “mindboggling” effort to obtain it the night before the election.
The father has also campaigned against Morrissey; in a radio ad for Sullivan, he said the delegate “took advantage” of his daughter and “tore our family apart.”
After agreeing to resign his seat, effective Jan. 13, Morrissey announced that he would run again in the special election to replace him. He is currently serving a six-month jail sentence, but his work-release agreement allows him out of jail 12 hours a day, seven days a week to campaign, legislate and run his private law practice.
In a primary in late December that was limited to only a handful of party committee members, Democrats nominated retired union organizer Kevin Sullivan to run against Morrissey. Republican Matt Walton, a Glen Allen high school teacher, is also running. Morrissey is running as an independent.