Democrat Joseph Morrissey may soon be commuting to his job in the Virginia General Assembly where he serves as a state delegate, following his plea agreement involving a sexual relationship with his 17-year-old now-pregnant office assistant.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported:
Morrissey, 57, entered an Alford plea to a single misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. He immediately was escorted by deputies to jail to begin serving the sentence.
Morrissey was being housed Friday night in Henrico Jail East in New Kent County, where he will be allowed to engage in a work-release program and maintain his legislative and legal duties, one of his lawyers said.
“We understand that the legislature can run late into the night; but we will know where he is,” Henrico County Sheriff Michael Wade told reporters.
Although his position as a state delegate is secure, at least until the next election, his license to practice law may now be in jeopardy.
Morrissey entered into the plea deal after prosecutors disclosed evidence the state was prepared to present against him, including graphic images and text messages of a sexual nature that had passed between him and the minor. The Times-Dispatch reported:
Morrissey’s legal team had alleged that Morrissey was victimized by a jealous girlfriend of the 17-year-old who was able to gain access to Morrissey’s cellphone and the teenager’s and was able to plant naked images of the teen there as well as graphic texts referring to sexual acts between Morrissey and the receptionist.
The alleged hacker “had knowledge of and access to all of the photos which would have been admitted into evidence by the commonwealth,” Morrissey’s legal team asserted in the plea agreement documents.
Morrissey claimed proposed defense witness testimony could account for all the times he was alleged to have had sexual relations with the minor.
By making the plea deal, Morrissey is avoiding the possibility of a 41-year prison sentence had he been convicted of the four felony charges and a single misdemeanor handed down by a grand jury in June.
As a result of pleading to the misdemeanor, he will be eligible for parole after serving 90 days by receiving one day credit for good behavior for each day he serves.
Following the announcement of the deal, Republican Del. Gregory D. Habeeb tweeted:
Joe Morrissey should IMMEDIATELY resign his seat in the House of Delegates and disappear. FOREVER!
— Greg Habeeb (@GregHabeeb) December 12, 2014
GOP House Speaker William J. Howell declined to comment, as did state Democratic leaders.