Yes, Delegate Joe Morrissey says, investigators might have found a text message that reads, “OMG, I just fucked my boss.” But he says there’s no way it was sent by the underage girl with whom he’s charged of having sex.
“We have examined 10,000 texts,” he told a group of reporters today. The girl “has never used the acronym OMG in her life.”
Morrissey offers an alternative explanation: The texts were sent as part of a hacking plot perpetrated by a 24-year-old woman who’s obsessed with the girl and intent on marrying her.
Indicted Monday by a special grand jury, Morrissey stood outside the Henrico County Courthouse to outline the defense Tuesday. (At least one local television station carried his statement live, but dropped it after he used the F-bomb while describing the content of the aforementioned text message.)
In an indictment and supporting documents, prosecutor William Neely says that Morrissey, a lawyer and Democratic lawmaker who represents parts of Henrico and Charles City counties and Richmond, had sex with and later solicited pornographic images of a 17-year-old receptionist who worked in his law office. If found guilty of the four felonies and one misdemeanor listed in the indictment, Morrissey could spend up to 41 years in prison.
Police began looking into Morrissey’s relationship with the girl in August after her father called police, who found her at Morrissey’s house at 11 p.m. Neely says investigators later determined Morrissey had sex with the girl twice at his law office, and later texted about it.
Throughout the investigation, a lawyer representing the girl has denied the relationship.
But Neely says the girl, who is now 18 and hasn’t been identified publicly, has changed her story. He says there’s no evidence that any phones were hacked or text messages planted.
Morrissey vehemently disagreed today, saying the alleged hacker, who he identifies as a correctional officer at a juvenile detention facility, has admitted to it on tape multiple times. Further, Morrissey says, he’s hired experts who “have uncovered the hacking device, the serial number and the texts.”
That’s in addition to the usage of the acronym for “Oh my God,” which Morrissey says the 17-year-old girl never used.Morrissey says the correctional officer is obsessed with the girl with whom he’s alleged to have slept.
“Three weeks ago, at a party near the Amelia County line,” Morrissey says, the corrections officer “went around screaming that [the alleged victim] was going to be her wife and they were going to be married.”
As to whether the alleged victim provided inconsistent accounts, Morrissey says she was consistent, despite multiple interviews with detectives, during which Morrissey says they were recording, and telling her that “if she changes her story, she can sue Morrissey for $2 million.”
Then there are the allegations about the night police found the girl at Morrissey’s house. Morrissey says they were just talking. But Neely says Morrissey stalled police at the door. Morrissey denies that.
“Contrary to what Mr. Neely’s saying,” Morrissey says, “I was fully dressed, and I said, ‘Officers, come in,’ and they stepped in the foyer.”
This isn’t Morrissey’s first foray into scandal. In 1991 he famously got into a fistfight with an opposing attorney in a courthouse. He lost his law license in 2001 for unethical conduct. A U.S. Court of Appeals judge wrote in 2002 that “Evidence … demonstrates Morrissey’s 15-year history of contempt citations, reprimands, fines, suspensions, and even incarcerations arising from unprofessional conduct mostly involving an uncontrollable temper, inappropriate responses to stress and dishonesty.”
Morrissey bounced back. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 2007 and got his law license back in 2012.
In response to calls to step down from a Democratic colleague in the General Assembly, Morrissey says there isn’t a “snowball’s chance in hell.”
“My life isn’t going to change a bit,” Morrissey says, adding that he’ll continue his law practice.
Indeed, before stepping out of the courthouse to speak to reporters, he’d spent two and a half hours in circuit court arguing on behalf of a client during a bond hearing. During portions of the hearing Morrissey grew combative and raised his voice. At one point, the judge put up his hands. "Mr Morrissey, if you'll control your temper," he said.
The client’s fiancé, Chela Wallace, says she saw Morrissey on the news the night before. Do Morrissey’s legal troubles worry her?
“Not at all,” she says. “He’s got a good reputation. He’s a good man.”