Morrissey: two people will come forward to debunk latest accusations

Joe Morrissey addresses recent controversies on 12News Today

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With one week to go before Election Day, Richmond mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey says two people will come forward soon from Henrico Jail that will "completely debunk" a claim he made sexual advances toward a potential client earlier this year.

In a press release from Morrissey's office:

Both witnesses will state, under oath, that Ms. Morris 'was lying.'  These two witnesses, who for a time shared a cell with Ms. Morris and have no connection with Mr. Morrissey whatsoever, heard Ms. Morris say, 'I will do anything I can get out of jail.'  Additionally, a law enforcement officer in the Henrico County Jail also heard Morris say, 'I will do anything I have to get out of here.'

The press release also states that the witnesses said:

  • "Ms. Morris told us everything about her case and never once mentioned being forced to enter a Plea Agreement."
  • "At no time during the two- week period did Ms. Morris ever complain that she was a victim of sexual advances or exposure by Mr. Morrissey."
  • After speaking with her attorney (Mr. Steven Benjamin) one night, Ms. Morris came back in to the cell smiling ear-to- ear and said, "I have just spoken to my attorney, he prompted me on what to say tomorrow.  I will be going home tomorrow, you wait and see."
  • One of the witnesses specifically recalled Morris saying, "I’m pissed at Mr. Morrissey for not showing up at my sentencing, and I am going to get even with him."

During a Facebook Live interview on Tuesday morning at NBC12, Morrissey said that "what was done was one of the most mean spirited Election Eve things I've ever seen. Stay tuned to what's coming up next."

On Friday, Kanika Shani Morris, 35, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch Morrissey made sexual advances and sent her lewd text messages when she met him for legal counsel on Feb. 1.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that when Morris refused Morrissey's overtures, he "handed over her case to another lawyer in his office, who pushed her into taking a plea deal." A judge has allowed her to withdraw the plea deal amid the allegations.

Morris says Morrissey exposed himself and tried to get her to send nude pictures to him. She provided the newspaper with explicit text messages to corroborate her account. At the time, Morrissey was recently engaged to his now-wife, Myrna, who was pregnant with their second child.

Morris claims she was forced to accept a plea deal the last minute and also claims attorney Paul Galanides changed something without her knowledge. The plea agreement was presented orally in front of a judge on Sept. 26.

However, Morrissey's lawyer, Arnold Henderson, says a letter from Galanides dated Sept. 29 proves that Morris is lying about being pressured into having sex. Henderson refuted 10 points published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, including Morris' meeting with Morrissey, claiming he was standing between her and a closed door and that she declined to touch him.

Morrissey's lawyer also says another attorney, Catherine Mullins, was in the room the entire time and says Morris was lying.

I remember meeting with Kanika Morris on 2-1-16. I met with her alone in my office and then the two of us met with Joe in his office. To my recollection, I was with her the entire time and she was never alone in Joe's office. she told me she knew Joe previously from his work with his group home. Because Joe knew her, he offered her a greatly reduced rate for her case. After the meeting, she left the office and Joe and I continued to talk briefly about the case and why he gave her a reduced fee. I do not recall if she retained us on that day or if she came back later to retain us.

Morrissey says he had no contact with her in any shape or form, and he also questioned why Morris and her new attorney drove to the Richmond Times-Dispatch's offices after she was released from jail.

In Tuesday's Facebook Live interview, which was recorded after a live interview on campaign issues, Morrissey says the whole thing "is completely made up." He is now demanding a retraction of the RTD story and a formal apology.

According to the press release, there will be a press conference at the Henrico County Jail on Wednesday, where one or both of the witnesses will speak.

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