Joseph D. Morrissey, a Richmond lawyer and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, was charged Monday with having sex with a 17-year-old receptionist who worked at his law firm and possessing child pornography for allegedly soliciting a photo of the teen and sharing it with a friend, according to a five-count indictment filed Monday in Henrico County court.

Morrissey (D), a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney with a history of public controversies including a courtroom fistfight and a revocation of his law license that lasted a decade, had been under criminal investigation since August, when police found the girl in his home about midnight on a Friday. Police were tipped off by the girl’s father, according to court documents released Monday.

The girl had started working for Morrissey’s law firm about three weeks earlier. Morrissey, who was 55 at the time, took her to dinner more than once, and they engaged in “repeated consensual acts of sexual intercourse” at his office, according to the court documents. After one of the encounters, Morrissey and the girl sent nearly simultaneous text messages to their friends about what had happened, according to the documents.

Morrissey’s five-person legal team called the charges “baseless and without any factual support” and said the teen also denies the charges. The attorneys accused the special prosecutor, Spotsylvania Commonwealth’s Attorney William F. Neely, of a two-decades-long vendetta against Morrissey that included opposition to his reinstatement to the bar.

“The evidence will show that Del. Morrissey never solicited, possessed or distributed any pornographic images. The only obscenity is what Mr. Neely has done by virtue of charging Del. Morrissey,” stated a news release issued by the team, which includes former attorney general Anthony Troy and state Sen. William M. Stanley Jr.

The five-person legal team of Del. Joseph Morrissey (D-Henrico) called the charges “baseless and without any factual support.” (Steve Helber/AP)

Morrissey and the girl, through their attorneys, said their cellphones were hacked and the incriminating text messages planted by a third party; police could not confirm those accounts, according to the court documents.

Neely did not return calls seeking comment. He said in a news release that he called a grand jury after learning that the girl and her mother had been “less than cooperative with the police investigation.”and had given contradictory statements to police.

Morrissey was charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor, including supervisory indecent liberties with a minor, electronic solicitation of a minor, and possession and distribution of child pornography. He faces up to 40 years behind bars.

After the girl left her job at the end of August, Morrissey continued to let her use the company Lexus and helped her buy a new car, according to the prosecutor. They also spent a night together at a Norfolk hotel in October, and they have appeared in public socially as recently as last month, according to documents Neely released Monday.

The girl, a college freshman and part-time receptionist for Morrissey’s law firm, Morrissey & Goldman LLC, was visiting the delegate at his home in August to discuss a “very sensitive legal matter,” Rob Walker, a Richmond attorney for the girl’s mother, said at the time.

The girl had her mother’s permission to go to Morrissey’s house and said that “at all times during the visit, Mr. Morrissey was a gentleman and acted entirely in a professional manner,” Walker said.

Morrissey fought for years to reinstate his law license. Despite his controversial legal career, Morrissey was elected to the House in 2007 and reelected three times since. He is one of his party’s most vigorous floor debaters, relishing verbal sparring matches with GOP opponents.

House Minority Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) said it’s too early to call for Morrissey’s resignation, but noted that the child pornography charges filed Monday are more serious than past allegations of wrongdoing.

“Without knowing more about the facts, all I can say is they are very serious charges. He has a right to presumption of innocence and we need to find out more about what happened before we take any action on it,” he said.

“There is no doubt Joe has gotten himself into hot water in the past, and clearly there are some very serious charges that have been leveled right now,” he said.