HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Tuesday, addressing a recent incident at one of the county’s jail facilities involving Sen. Joe Morrissey and three young children.
According to the sheriff’s office, Morrissey was meeting with a client at Henrico County Jail West on Saturday, Jan. 28, when he left three young children unattended in the lobby. Morrissey’s visiting privileges at Henrico’s Jail West and Jail East facilities have reportedly been suspended for 90 days as a result of the incident.
A report of the incident made by Lt. G. Carey with the sheriff’s office says the following:
- Morrissey entered the prisoner visitation area at 11:07 a.m. to speak with his client. The children left in the lobby then proceeded to sit on tables, play in the lobby and turn the lights off. At 11:21 a.m., Lt. Brown reportedly told the children not to play with the light switch and sit down. Brown then asked Morrissey to step out of the visitation area and explained the situation, Morrissey reportedly told Brown to look serious and threaten to handcuff the child. Brown refused and Morrissey told the children to stay seated and color.
- Morrissey returned to the prisoner visitation area and moments later the children were reportedly back to playing. At 11:51 a.m., Brown reportedly saw the youngest child exit the facility and walk into the parking lot. Brown exited the building and retrieved the child.
- Incidents with the children continued, including standing in the way of the building’s sliding door, moving lobby chairs around, drawing rainbows on the smartboard, throwing a football in the lobby and talking to an inmate. Carey went to notify Morrissey again and he returned to the lobby and talked with the children. Carey told Morrissey that he could not leave his children unattended in the lobby and offered to retrieve his belongings for him from the visitation area.
- According to the lieutenant’s report, Morrissey then said, “I’ll do what I want I can just send them to the car how about that.” At Morrissey’s instruction, all three children then exited the front lobby door alone and proceeded through the parking lot to a vehicle.
- Carey informed his coworkers not to let Morrissey back into the prisoner visitation area due to his children being left unattended in the parking lot. Once Morrissey was denied access, he reportedly walked aggressively toward Carey, questioning why he had not been let in. Carey said it was due to the children being left unattended in the parking lot.
- Carey’s report claims Morrissey then used profanity and said that he was going to call the sheriff.
- According to Carey, he then told Morrissey to leave the facility, but Morrissey refused, saying he was calling the sheriff. Sheriff Gregory then answered the call and Morrissey put her on speaker phone as he explained the situation. Gregory told Morrissey that he could not leave his children unattended in the lobby or the car in the parking lot. In response, Morrissey said he would send a fellow attorney to the car to watch the children while he continued his meeting.
- Around half an hour later, Carey reported that Myrna Morrissey entered the lobby and attempted to gain information as to what had taken place. Carey encouraged her to speak with the investigations department and did not go into any details as to what had taken place. Shortly before 2:15 p.m., Myrna Morrissey’s attorney called Carey and requested information, once again, Carey recommended the attorney speak to the investigations department. The attorney told Carey that Child Protective Services had been notified.
Video shared with 8News also showed Morrissey visibly agitated in a verbal exchange with Carey. At one point, Morrissey tells Carey, “do your job.” Carey says that he is doing his job and Morrissey responds by saying, “you got nothing else to do except to eat.”
“In response to news media requests and video circulating on social media, I would like to commend the staff of the Henrico Sheriff’s Office for their professionalism and restraint in handling [the situation],” said Henrico County Sheriff Alisa A. Gregory. “Despite our staff’s efforts, Mr. Morrissey refused repeated requests to comply and eventually became verbally abusive, made threatening remarks and acted in an aggressive manner to a lieutenant.”
8News reached out to Morrissey who agreed to speak over the phone late Tuesday night. Morrissey said the claims that he “became verbally abusive” and “made threatening remarks” to a deputy were overblown.
“I called him ‘a f—ing obstructionist,'” Morrissey said. “I didn’t call him a name. I called him an obstructionist — and that’s for your audience to interpret.”
Morrissey claimed that his children were never left alone because there were deputies watching them at all times.
“I said, ‘where can the children gather, right here?’ Then I went back, got them juice, came back and they had been set up at a table and they were coloring,” Morrissey said. “Then they made airplanes and — as kids sometimes do — they got a little rambunctious.”
Morrissey says he only started arguing with deputies after they had told him he needed to leave.
“I came out and one of the deputies told me they had to leave. I said, ‘well, it’s a public place and they’re kids.’ And at that point, he said, ‘well, you’re going to have to leave too.’ I said, ‘I’m not leaving,'” Morrissey said.
According to Morrissey, the sheriff initially told him he didn’t need to leave and he was surprised to find she had later banned him.
This most recent incident is part of a continuing saga of public controversies involving Morrissey, in which he and his estranged wife have leveled allegations of child neglect and abuse at one another.