Del. Joe Morrissey will not resign, can keep job for now - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Del. Joe Morrissey will not resign, can keep job for now

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

In a defiant stance against prosecutors and Henrico investigators, Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Henrico) said he will not resign from the Virginia House of Delegates, as concern continues to build from constituents to the Governor's office.

"There's not a snowball's chance in Hell that I'll resign," Morrissey told reporters Tuesday.

The House of Delegates confirmed Morrissey is allowed to remain in his position, but would be forced to resign if he is convicted of a felony. Virginia state lawmakers are required to be eligible to vote, a right that is automatically stripped upon any felony conviction.

Morrissey faces four felony charges and one misdemeanor, stemming from allegations he had a sexual relationship with his 17-year-old receptionist.

The unease over the case has spread to fellow lawmakers in Richmond, as well as the Governor's office.

"[Governor McAuliffe] is obviously concerned about these severe and disturbing allegations," said spokesperson Brian Coy.

Del. Mark Keam (D-Fairfax) was the first member of the General Assembly to call for Morrissey's resignation, saying that the Henrico delegate should step down before the criminal trial begins.

"When you step up to serve the public, you hold an office of public trust," Keam said in a phone interview Tuesday. "That's a different standard than the criminal standard of burden of proof."

If Morrissey is removed from his seat or steps down, a special election will be called by Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) or Governor McAuliffe. At the earliest, a special election could be held within two weeks of a seat becoming vacant, or in November on Election Day.

Morrissey has been in office since January 2008, and is one of the delegates who votes on whether education bills reach the House floor.

"I'm going to be totally exonerated," Morrisey said.  "I will win because I will be vindicated, I will be vindicated because of the facts and because of the evidence."

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