During the Senate floor discussion (see video at the bottom of this post) of Delegate Roem’s HB2132, which prohibits the use of “LGBTQ+ panic” as a defense by a defendant accused of murder or bodily injury, Senator Morrissey spoke against the bill, asking if there had ever been in the history of the General Assembly a time when a bill took away an affirmative defense, took away a defendant’s right to say why they did what they did?
Senator McClellan jumped up to respond, saying that indeed, there HAD been a previous time–when the code allowing a defense to carnal knowledge of a child 14 years of age or older when there is a subsequent marriage of the victim and the perpetrator was repealed, in 2008. Translation: if you raped a 14 year old, and got married after, that was your defense in court. How did she know that? It was her bill. And you know who else should have known that? Senator Morrissey, who voted for it when he was in the House. (And, yes, it was legal to marry a 14 year old then, a law also repealed by a bill from Senator McClellan!)
Since this law was repealed in 2008, Morrissey wasn’t able to use it himself six years later when he was alleged to have had sex with his 17-year old receptionist, who he later married. Although he faced up to 40 years in prison on felony charges, he took an Alford plea to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and received a 12 month sentence, 6 months of which was suspended. Must be nice to be a white man.
This hasn’t even been the first cringeworthy moment in the Senate this session involving Senator Morrissey. For example, there was the time when he decided to speak up during discussion of Delegate Watts’ HB2155 to say that he wasn’t sure what constituted workplace harassment and asked whether asking someone out on a date repeatedly counted. (Do we think that’s how a 55 year old Morrissey got a 17-year old to yes?)
Or the time when he gasped in horror during a Senate Judiciary meeting at the “Herculean constitutional problems” of a bill to make it illegal to send unsolicited obscene pictures to someone by text to harass or intimidate them. Was he perhaps thinking about the nude photos of his 17-year old receptionist that court records say he texted to a friend along with a text reading “Hey, buddy, I just [expletive] her on my conference table and again on the floor for good measure!”
It’s weird sometimes to think about this man serving in the same prestigious Senate as Senator McClellan, who is so obviously his moral and intellectual superior. What on earth were those primary voters in the 16th Senate district thinking?