Del. Joe Morrissey charged with sex with teen receptionist

Published: Jul. 1, 2014 at 1:58 AM EDT
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Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) (Source: NBC12)
Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) (Source: NBC12)

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A grand jury indicted Virginia Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) on Monday on charges connected to his relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say Morrissey, 55, had sex multiple times with a teenage part-time receptionist at his law office, as well as other sexual encounters. Special prosecutor Bill Neely says phone records from both parties confirm the inappropriate relationship.

A special grand jury handed down a true bill charging Morrissey with four felonies on Monday afternoon. The charges include supervisory indecent liberties with a minor, electronic solicitation of a minor, possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

If convicted, Morrissey could spend up to 30 years in prison and face a fine. He also would have to register as a sex offender.

Henrico police have been investigating the relationship between Morrissey and the teen for nearly a year. The girl was a receptionist for three weeks before an incident on August 23, when her father called police to Morrissey's home. The girl was taken by police from Morrissey's home, but denies she ever had an inappropriate relationship with the politician. Her mother says she gave her permission to be at the home and her lawyer says the father does not have custody of the teen.

Court documents show she started working at the firm on August 5 and her lawyer admits she claimed to be 22 on her application. A copy of her job application and resume provided to the media by Sherri Thaxton back up her claim. However, prosecutors believe Morrissey was aware of the girl's true age prior to the alleged incidents.

Prosecutors say the night of August 23 was not the first time the pair was intimate. They argue Morrissey took the girl out for dinner repeatedly after she started working at the firm and that on August 20, the two had sex repeatedly at his office. Police have copies of text messages from both parties confirming the sexual encounter, according to the court documents.

The next morning, prosecutors say Morrissey sent the teen a text message asking her for a nude photograph, which she sent to him. Prosecutors say Morrissey then sent the photo to a friend.

A lawyer representing the mother of the girl has said the two had no inappropriate contact. Rob Walker said the girl's was there with her mother's "permission, blessing, approval and full knowledge." The girl's mother also told officers her daughter told her that at all times Morrissey was a gentleman and acted in a professional matter, according to Walker.

The special prosecutor called the teen and her mother "less than cooperative," saying they gave conflicting and contradictory statements to police. Neely also said the teen remained employed at the firm until August 30, used Morrissey's Lexus for several more weeks and spent the night with him at a Norfolk hotel in October while still a minor.

While both parties have claimed their phones were hacked or the incriminating text messages were planted by a third party, law enforcement have no credible evidence to substantiate those claims, according to the court documents.

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