Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney addresses political ties to Morrissey

Published: Aug. 30, 2013 at 10:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2013 at 10:41 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico's top prosecutor's political ties to Delegate Joe Morrissey are being called into question. That's because Del. Morrissey is now under investigation, but he was once a big supporter of the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor.

Taylor agreed to talk to NBC12 about the situation over the phone.  She acknowledges that Del. Morrissey was a supporter but wants to remind people this was two years ago.

When a candidate runs for office, donations must be disclosed. When Taylor was up for election two years ago, online records show Delegate Joe Morrissey donated $500.

But it was Taylor who confirmed earlier this week that her office is now assisting in a police investigation concerning Morrissey.  The case involves a teen girl who worked in his law office.  So far, he has not been charged.

NBC12 asked Taylor about her political ties to Morrissey. A photo from her campaign website shows a fundraising event in 2011.  She's surrounded by local politicians who represent Henrico County, including Morrissey.

But Taylor says right now, she's not recusing herself from the investigation and says her office will continue to be involved.

In a statement Taylor said, "I regret that political labels have come into the analysis but at this time my office is assisting in this investigation and we are treating this like any other investigation."

The teen's mother has said the relationship Morrissey has with her daughter is innocent and professional.

But there is this search warrant of the teen's home. It says the crime being investigated is "Taking indecent liberties with child by person in custodial or supervisor relationship."

Former Henrico prosecutor and University of Richmond law professor Corinna Lain says if this offense is applied in this case, it could be a stretch because it doesn't normally apply to work place situations.

"The statute is written. The cases that are interpreting it seem to be talking about a loco parentis type of relationship and so the cases are about babysitters and school officials, that sort of thing," Lain said.

Taylor did tell NBC12 she does have the option to step aside at a later time if she thinks it's necessary.

Delegate Morrissey has not been charged with any crime.

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