May 24, 2023 - Politics

Scoop: Myrna Morrissey files for divorce

Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/Washigton Post

Myrna Morrissey initiated divorce proceedings against Sen. Joe Morrissey last week.

What's happening: In court filings, she alleges he abused her, had sex with her when she was still a minor and had numerous affairs.

  • Joe Morrissey denied the allegations in the filing.

Why it matters: The state lawmaker is in the midst of a contentious Democratic primary and in the past has put his marriage front and center as he rebuilt his political career after a string of scandals.

Flashback: He was convicted in 2014 on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection to his relationship with his now-wife and served 90 days in jail.

  • He was 55, and she was 17 when they met.
  • Former Gov. Ralph Northam pardoned him last year before leaving office.

The latest: While both Morrisseys have previously denied any underage sexual encounter, Myrna Morrissey now alleges in her divorce filing that the two had "a sexual relationship" while she was still underage.

  • She alleges Joe Morrissey coached her through the police investigation, including by allegedly instructing her to "throw your phone in the river" and instructing a legislative staffer to purchase them both burner phones.

The two were married in 2016, but Myrna Morrissey now alleges she was aware of infidelities and in 2018 told Joe Morrissey she wanted a divorce.

  • She alleges he convinced her to stay "because he was about to run for State Senate, and a divorce would hurt his campaign. He desired to portray their 'family' life to help him overcome the stigma created by their illicit relationship."

Myrna Morrissey alleges emotional, verbal and physical abuse, accusing her husband of calling her names like "ghetto rat" and making "unflattering remarks regarding her race."

  • She alleges he deliberately elbowed her in the stomach while she was pregnant with their third child and, in another encounter, choked her and slammed her against a wall.

The filing also challenges Joe Morrissey's 2022 pardon by Northam, alleging her husband drafted an affidavit submitted in her name supporting the request and saying she "has no recollection of ever actually signing" it.

The other side: "I'm very disappointed that Myrna has done this," Joe Morrissey told Axios. "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."

Of note: Myrna Morrissey first went public with her desire for a divorce early this year, calling the marriage "the biggest mistake of my life."

Zoom out: Joe Morrissey is being challenged in the Democratic primary by former Petersburg Del. Lashrecse Aird.

  • The race is drawing outsized attention because of Morrissey's past support for anti-abortion rights legislation, which Aird has pledged to oppose. Early voting is underway.
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