Virginia lawmaker who won election from jail faces new charges

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2015 2:50 PM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - A Virginia state lawmaker who was re-elected last week while serving a jail sentence for a sex scandal was indicted on Wednesday on felony charges stemming from the case.

In a fresh political embarrassment for Virginia, the legislator, Joseph Morrissey, was charged by a Henrico County grand jury with four counts of allegedly lying under oath and submitting a forged document to the court.

Morrissey, a member of the House of Delegates, is serving a six-month jail term for a misdemeanor conviction of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The case involves a former receptionist who was 17 when she worked in his law office.

The receptionist is now 18 and pregnant. She has denied having sex with Morrissey, 57.

The new charges involve a child support order that Morrissey introduced into evidence during his trial in Henrico County Circuit Court.

“The order … is by all evidence a forgery,” prosecutor William Neely said in a statement.

Morrissey, a former Democrat, resigned after being sentenced. Running as an independent, he was re-elected in the special election held to fill his seat representing a district near Richmond.

The mother of the receptionist is charged with perjury. Morrissey could not be immediately reached for comment.

It was not clear whether the legislature would try to take disciplinary action against Morrissey because of the new charges.

Morrissey has been running his law practice and working at the legislature under a work-release program, in which he reports back to jail in the evening. He is to be arraigned on Feb. 9.

Morrissey's charges are a new embarrassment for Virginia's political establishment, still reeling from the September conviction of former Republican Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on corruption charges.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)