Delegate charged with child cruelty, won’t recuse himself from domestic violence bills

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 23:11:47-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Delegate Rick Morris turned himself in to police Tuesday after a Grand Jury indicted him on two felony charges of child cruelty and two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery against a family member.

Morris is now back in Richmond for the General Assembly session and voters, fellow delegates and political experts are all saying the word “recuse” in regards to his participation in domestic violence bills.

But when CBS 6 reporter Jon Burkett spoke with Del. Rick Morris during a break at the General Assembly Wednesday night, he said there's nothing to say and he won't recuse himself from anything.

Del. Rick Morris

Del. Rick Morris

"He should recuse himself,” said one Republican voter. “I understand you want to maintain your innocence and stand your ground, but seeing that he's so close to things, I think it's a conflict of interest.”

"Right is right,” said a Democratic delegate. “It's a serious incident and until the investigation is over he should recuse himself."

"Fellow assembly members are unlikely to vote him out because the legal system hasn't taken full course," said CBS 6 political analyst Bob Holsworth.

All those voices say Morris, who is from Isle of Wight and represents the 64th District, should take some time off and work on straightening out his legal issues.

In House room C Wednesday night, legislation on DMV fines was being debated. But CBS 6 managed to ask Morris outside the room if he planned on recusing himself from any bill involving domestic violence.

Rick Morris

Rick Morris

The 48-year-old Navy veteran said “No” and added he had nothing more to say.

Holsworth said it even seems pressure from his own party isn't working.

"At best, he should recuse himself from voting on bills related to the criminal justice system or ones similar to the charges leveled against him," said Holsworth.

House Bill 1851 addresses penalties for those found guilty of assaulting a family member was tabled Wednesday. That is a bill Morris could potentially vote on.

CBS 6 contacted Speaker William Howell's office for comment late Wednesday and haven't heard back.