Former Del. Joe Morrissey intends to marry the 19-year-old who gave birth to his son, Chase, earlier this year. Oh, and he’s running for the state Senate, too.
Morrissey, 58, publicly acknowledged that he was the child’s father on a local radio show Wednesday. He told a room of two dozen reporters at his Highland Springs law office Thursday that he, Myrna Pride and their infant are living in Shockoe Bottom together as a happy family. The defense attorney and politician, who has four different children by four different women, said he called the news conference to address false information that was circulating about their relationship. Namely, that he had walked out on the baby.
“I didn’t abandon him … It’s really hurtful for someone to say I’m not engaged in Chase’s life,” Morrissey says.
“Of course we’re going to get married,” he adds. “I love Myrna. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She makes me laugh. I think she makes me a better person. We’ve got a great life.”
The pair answered questions about their relationship and the scandal that saw Morrissey charged with four felonies for allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with Pride when she was a then-17-year-old employee at his law firm. He entered an Alford plea – denying guilt while acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence for a conviction – and was sentenced to six months in a Henrico County jail on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He served 90 days. While in jail, he continued to represent the constituents of the 74th District, who re-elected him in a special election in January despite his sentence and persona non grata status at the statehouse.
The couple denied having a sexual relationship before Pride turned 18. Morrissey says he learned of her pregnancy last July. He flew down to Atlanta earlier this year when Pride gave birth.
“As Joe says, things aren’t planned. I’m a mother now. I love it. It’s the best part of my world right now,” Pride says. She is working at Morrissey’s law firm again and attending classes at John Tyler Community College, where she has been a student for three years. She said she plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University in the future.
Morrissey announced in the spring that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Rosalyn Dance’s 10th District Senate seat, but did not receive enough signatures to be put on the ballot. He sued the state’s Democratic party, which is in charge of the ballot process, but a Richmond judge threw the case out.
Morrissey says he still intends to seek Dance’s seat as an independent in November and already had been campaigning door-to-door in Petersburg. The couple plans to have several more children, “if Myrna has her way,” Morrissey says.
“Children are a blessing. We’ve felt that way from the beginning.”
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