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A former member of the Virginia House of Delegates won the Democrat primary for the state senate Tuesday night, even though he was jailed four years ago for having sex with a minor whom he later married.
Joe Morrissey defeated incumbent state Sen. Rosalyn Dance by 14 points Tuesday night. Morrissey, now 61, was in his 50’s when he was accused of having sex with his 17-year-old secretary, to whom he is now married. He claimed he did nothing wrong, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in 2015 while admitting there was enough evidence to convict him. (This often happens to innocent and guilty defendants alike, they plead to a lesser crime to avoid worse consequences in front of a jury for a larger crime.) The girl and her mother also denied anything untoward was happening between the two, though he was initially indicted on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography (he had, according to prosecutors, a nude photograph of the girl and had sent it to a friend) and the electronic solicitation of a minor.
Morrissey, according to Fox News, spent six months in jail for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” but continued serving as a state legislator during that time.
Morrissey had originally resigned from his House District seat after conviction but won it back in a special election and served as a delegate while in jail.
In addition to his former criminal conviction, he has also been disbarred twice, the second of which he appealed.
Morrissey cruised to victory Tuesday night thanks to support in Petersburg, described by The Richmond Times-Dispatch as “a majority-black city where Morrissey’s message of fixing schools and roads secured 3,354 votes of his district-wide total of 8,739 with 100% in, according to unofficial returns.”
Morrissey also campaigned against the Democrat establishment, including Gov. Ralph Northam, who had endorsed his opponent Dance. Northam faced his own political scandal earlier this year when a photograph of two men – one in black face and the other wearing a KKK hood – was discovered in his medical school yearbook. Northam initially apologized for appearing in the photo, but reversed course a day later, claiming he was not in that photo but had worn blackface at another time in college.
As local and national Democrats called on Northam to resign, it was reported that Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The allegation remains a “he said, she said” situation. The accuser has not been able to offer any proof of her allegations.
As the top brass in Virginia Democrat politics looked poised to resign amid scandals, it was discovered that the second-in-line Democrat, Attorney General Mark Herring, also appeared in blackface in college. Once that came to light, and it was reported that the next in line to succeed to the governorship was a Republican (Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox), calls for resignations from other Democrats stopped.
Now there’s a fourth Democrat (that we know about) in Virginia with an unseemly scandal.