Morrissey pleads not guilty, asks judge to release transcripts

Posted at 8:18 AM, Jul 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-18 16:57:16-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Virginia Delegate Joe Morrissey (D - Henrico) appeared in court Friday morning where he was arraigned on five charges that stem from an alleged sexual relationship with a teenager employee.

Morrissey adamantly denies the allegations and the teen involved in the case has backed Morrissey's claims.

Morrissey, who is free on bond, plead not guilty to the charges. Morrissey's defense team also asked the court to release four days worth of transcripts from the grand jury that indicted him.

The defense told Judge James Bass they were also possibly going to ask at another time that the special prosecutor assigned to the case be removed.

At the end of the nearly 20-minute arraignment hearing, Morrissey requested a jury trial. The case was then scheduled to go before 12 jurors on December 15.

The 56-year-old lawyer and lawmaker was accused in August 2013 of having a relationship with a 17-year-old employee at his law firm. The teen, who is now 18-years-old, said nothing happened, but the girl's father said otherwise.

The case has already been packed with twists and turns and more may be in store.

A judge could decide to issue a no-contact order, which would mean Morrissey and the teen would not be allowed to communicate. This could make things harder for the defense.

But the prosecution also has hurdles to overcome, as the teen is said to not be helping their case. This means prosecutors would have to find other ways of producing evidence without the teen's help.

"It definitely makes their job much more difficult for a prosecutor because they have to prove the case with documents, with cell phone records, text messages and things like that," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.

If convicted on all five charges including supervisory indecent liberties with a minor, electronic solicitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Morrissey could face up to 30 years in prison, according to Special Prosecutor William Neely.

Retired Judge James Bass has already been appointed to the case.

However more changes could be in store as Morrissey, who represents parts of Henrico County in the Virginia General Assembly, could have the December trial moved outside Henrico to help ensure a fair trial--according to legal analyst Todd Stone.