HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor announced Friday that the county will not be filing any criminal charges against Joe Morrissey after an investigation into accusations of pressuring a client for sex.
“Joe Morrissey will not be charged with criminal wrongdoing. While what he did was wrong and unethical, there will not be a prosecution,” said Taylor in a statement. “However, in accordance with our legal responsibilities to report unethical behavior, we have spoken with the Virginia Bar."
“I want to thank the prosecutor for clearing me of these false allegations, and I think all the voters know that they never should have been raised in the first place,” Morrissey told Melissa Hipolit Friday night.
This comes after a Richmond Times Dispatch report where a female client claimed Morrissey exposed himself to her at his law firm, pressured her for sex, sent her explicit text message, and, then, when she refused to play along gave her case to another lawyer in his office who pushed her into pleading guilty because she hadn’t paid Morrissey enough.
Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said her office did not find any information that violated Virginia law.
The woman, Kanika Shani Morris, provided the Times-Dispatch with emails purportedly from Morrissey - some graphic - consistent with her statements about her experiences, the paper stated.
Morris told the paper she had believed in Morrissey's reputation as a fighter for his clients, but found - quote - "he's more worried about what you can do for him sexually. What he can get out of a woman."
Taylor said her office found no evidence that Morris received a reduced fee in exchange for salacious pictures.
She also said her office found no evidence that Morris went through the motions of pleading guilty because there was some coercion that the fee was or would be higher if she didn’t.
Yet, in a statement Taylor called what Morrissey did “wrong and unethical.”
“Do you believe you did something unethical?” CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Morrissey.
“No,” Morrissey responded.
“Do you feel it is appropriate for somebody who is representing a client to send explicit text messages to them? Is that ethical as an attorney?” Hipolit asked.
“Well, like I said, I want to thank the prosecutor for clearing me of these false allegations. The voters know exactly what is going on,” Morrissey said.
But, the scandal isn’t going away anytime soon because Taylor said she reported Morrissey to the Virginia Bar for unethical conduct.
“Do you feel confident you will retain your law license with the bar?” Hipolit asked Morrissey.
“Ok, well, I am very confident of that,” Morrissey responded.
“You’re confident they will not think what you did was unethical?” Hipolit asked.
“I’m very confident that not only will I be, as Shannon Taylor vindicated me of these, that any allegations will be seen as election eve shenanigans,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey told Hipolit he plans to file an ethical complaint against Taylor for “injecting the criminal justice system on the eve of an election.”
Last week, a Henrico County judge allowed Morris to withdraw her guilty plea for failing to return a rental car. She had already spent two weeks in jail of her 90-day sentence when she was released.
Friday’s decision to not file charges on Morrissey will not affect the Judge’s decision to release Morris and allow her to change her plea.