Before Ralph Northam Left, He Pardoned a Dem Who Was Steps Away from Being Declared a Sex Offender

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Posted: Jan 17, 2022 12:45 PM
Before Ralph Northam Left, He Pardoned a Dem Who Was Steps Away from Being Declared a Sex Offender

Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber

It’s a new day in Virginia. Republican Glenn Youngkin is here. The Ralph Northam blackface era is over. The Attorney General Mark Herring blackface era is over. Our new lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, isn’t being slapped with rape allegations like Justin Fairfax. The stench of moral failure has been wiped clean from Richmond. Yet, before Ralph left, the man did issue a pardon for former Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey who had a very inappropriate relationship at the time with his law firm assistant, Myrna Pride, who was only 17 at the time.  He was a few steps away from being declared a sex offender but took to a plea deal. Yeah, Ralph decided to give this dude a break (via Richmond Times-Dispatch):

Gov. Ralph Northam has pardoned Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, for a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor related to his relationship with a 17-year-old law firm assistant who later became his wife.

Morrissey, then a delegate, was convicted in 2014. He and his wife, Myrna, are now raising four children.

Morrissey said he learned of the pardon on Thursday. Northam granted him what’s called a simple pardon.

“To say that I was extremely pleased with what the governor did would be, perhaps for me, the understatement of the 2022 General Assembly session,” he said.

“Most importantly, my wife is grateful,” he said.

And although their young children don’t understand a pardon yet, they’ll be grateful someday for the governor’s action, Morrissey said.

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, was Morrissey’s attorney in his pardon request.

“A simple pardon doesn’t change any legal consequences associated with a conviction, but I think in a lot of ways it serves as a sort of validation that somebody moved on from the situation that led to the crime at issue and has done a lot to redeem themselves,” Surovell said.

Oh yeah, that then-17-year-old is now his wife. Here are the details of the plea deal from 2014 (via NBC12 Washington):

Delegate Joe Morrissey accepted a plea deal Friday in connection with his relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Under the agreement, Del. Morrissey (D-Henrico) entered an Alford Plea to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Alford Plea means he does not admit guilt, but understands there's enough evidence for him to be found guilty at trial. All other charges against Morrissey were dropped.

The judge sentenced Morrissey to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. He will serve three months at Henrico Jail East and will be eligible for work release to practice law and serve in the General Assembly.  He will have to wear a GPS monitoring device.

[…]

The case stems from a sexual relationship prosecutors say the 55-year-old had with a teenage part-time receptionist at his law office last year.

She is now 18 years old and has denied, along with her mother, the sexual relationship.

But prosecutors say Henrico Police have continued to document interactions and alleged texts indicating a possible relationship between Morrissey and the teen throughout the investigation.  "She spent the night with him at a hotel in Norfolk in October when she was still 17 and they were seen together off and on dating across Richmond, Henrico during this entire investigation," says Neely.

[…]

A grand jury indicted Morrissey on charges of 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. Those charges could have led to a prison term of up to 30 years and have forced Morrissey to register as a sex offender. Instead, Morrissey reached the deal before heading to trial…

In all, Northam pardoned some 1,200 people over his tenure as Virginia’s governor. I’m not so sure Morrissey would be someone I would consider on any list.