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Virginia lawmaker is accused of having sex with teen worker at his law office

Posted Jul 1, 2014 10:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Virginia state delegate whose law license was reinstated in 2012 has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl who worked at his law firm.

Joseph Morrissey, a 56-year-old Richmond criminal-defense lawyer, was indicted on Monday, report the Washington Post, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and NBC Washington.

Prosecutors allege Morrissey and the teen engaged in “repeated consensual acts of sexual intercourse” at his law office last year, and both texted friends about one of the encounters. He is also accused of asking the teen to send a nude photo, which he forwarded to a friend.

The grand jury investigation began after police acted on a tip from the teen’s father and found her at Morrissey’s home at around midnight on a Friday last August.

Morrissey was charged with supervisory indecent liberties with a minor, electronic solicitation of a minor, possession and distribution of pornographic images of an underage female, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Morrissey and the teen both deny the charges. Lawyers for Morrissey and the teen said incriminating text messages were placed on their cellphones by a hacker, according to court documents cited by the Post. A lawyer for the teen’s mother said last August that her daughter visited Morrissey’s home to discuss a sensitive legal matter, and he acted as a gentleman during the visit. A lawyer for Morrissey has also said the teen falsely claimed to be 22 years old.

Morrissey generated controversy as far back as 1991, when he had a courthouse fistfight with another lawyer, the Times-Dispatch says. (The fight resulted in a reprimand, according to this Virginia State Bar press release.) He lost his law license in 2003 (PDF) after failing to notify clients about a license suspension.

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