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Democratic Senator’s wife files for divorce, alleges abuse

By Ben Marquis
|
May 26, 2023

Myrna Morrisey, the wife of prominent Democratic State Senator Joe Morrisey in Virginia, has filed paperwork to begin divorce proceedings, according to Axios.

She alleged in the filing that he has been physically and mentally abusive toward her, had repeatedly disparaged her with racist remarks, had engaged in numerous illicit affairs while they were married, and had a "sexual relationship" with her when she was still a minor.

Convicted of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

According to Axios, Myrna first revealed that she planned to seek a divorce in January and said at the time that the marriage had been "the biggest mistake of my life."

In December 2014, local CBS affiliate WTVR reported that then-Delegate Morrisey, a former attorney from Richmond, had entered into a plea agreement that acknowledged that he had contributed to the delinquency of a minor -- a charge related to allegations of an "inappropriate relationship" with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law firm, who turned out to be Myrna.

That plea to a misdemeanor crime included the dropping of other serious felony charges that, if convicted, could have resulted in Morrisey ending up behind bars for up to 30 years. Instead, a judge gave him a 12-month sentence and ordered six of those months to be suspended.

Married Following Allegations of Fathering Child With Minor

At that time, WTVR reported that Myrna's mother and grandmother supported the then-17-year-old's relationship with the then-55-year-old lawmaker and even spoke out in defense of Morrisey.

However, Myrna's sister, who was prepared to testify against Morrisey, suggested that he had paid the mother and grandmother to defend him or remain quiet as Myrna was pregnant and they all suspected that Morrisey was the father.

The sister further claimed that the Democratic legislator had harassed her and had her followed and made her life a "living hell" for speaking out against the relationship.

Less than two years later, in June 2016, local ABC affiliate WRIC reported that Joe Morrisey, then a candidate to be Richmond mayor, got married to Myrna Warren Pride, with whom he'd already fathered two young children.

The outlet noted that Morrisey, who only served three months of the six-month sentence, had acknowledged in 2015 that he was the father of his former underage secretary's child, despite the prior denials of any sexual relationship with her.

Morrisey Pardoned by Gov. Northam

Fast-forward to January 2022, when the Associated Press reported that outgoing Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a pardon for State Sen. Morrisey that wiped the slate clean of his 2014 misdemeanor plea in relation to the sex scandal involving his underage receptionist who later became his wife.

At that time, Myrna's father, Coleman Pride, called Northam's pardon of Morrisey "deplorable and downright despicable," accused Morrisey of working to "circumvent the judicial system to his advantage," and opposed an effort by Morrisey to have his law license reinstated.

That AP report noted that Morrisey had been disbarred twice, including after the plea agreement, and had resigned from his seat in the House of Delegates only to run again and win a month later as an independent in a special election to fill that same seat.

He then worked as a legislator during the day and served his time in jail at night as part of a work-release program only to then resign again for a failed 2015 run for the state Senate followed by the 2016 mayoral run that was cut short after a former client accused him of making "unwanted sexual advances" and sending her "lewd text messages" when he was a lawyer.

Morrisey finally returned to work in the state Capitol after he was elected to the state Senate as a Democrat in 2019.

Allegations Denied

Axios reported that Sen. Morrisey has denied all of the allegations put forward against him by his wife in the divorce filings.

"I'm very disappointed that Myrna has done this," the state senator told the outlet of the filing. "I love Myrna. It breaks my heart that she is airing these absolutely false allegations. And everybody that knows me and her -- everybody -- knows that I've always treated Myrna with respect and like a queen."