This post has been requested by many citizens and by many members of the law enforcement community, and is in response to my opponent’s recent Facebook post. To be very clear, I certainly understand what the Virginia State Bar ethical rules require and what they forbid. If you are going to say that my comments involved “at best half-truths and that they completely overlook a prosecutor’s duty” then perhaps you should make sure you accurately reflect my comments and why they were said.
Let me begin by setting the record straight. I never referenced the Yeamans case and I never referenced “church youth directors.” I referenced the shooting of three deputies, the children who were kept caged, and the Morrissey case in my closing remarks at the NAACP meeting. I happen to believe people who shoot police, people who cage their children in feces and urine filled rooms, and especially elected officials who have sex with and distribute child pornography of their underage employees should go to prison.
The Joseph Morrissey Case: Sex with a Minor Employee
I will start with ex-Delegate Morrissey’s case since my opponent did not address that case in his response. My opponent was appointed as a special prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute former Delegate Morrissey for possession of child pornography and for having sexual relations with his underage employee (she has since had Delegate Morrissey’s child).
Tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours were spent investigating this case only to have numerous felony charges reduced to one misdemeanor. Additionally, the plea agreement in this case permitted him to report to the General Assembly every day while on work release and serving his time in the local jail.
To add insult to injury, Delegate Morrissey was alleged to have committed perjury and to have introduced fraudulent documents at his sentencing hearing by my opponent. My opponent charged him for those offenses with four new felonies; however, the trial court and later the Court of Appeals ruled that my opponent’s plea agreement had actually granted Delegate Morrissey immunity and dismissed the charges. (http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavwp/0559152.pdf).
Then, while presenting at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s trainings, my opponent used this case as his example, demonstrating how strong the case was, that even the defense hired expert found child pornography on Morrissey’s phone only to end the lecture stating the reason he offered this plea agreement was because he thought “the voters or the State Bar would take care of Delegate Morrissey.” One may contact the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Services Council for a copy of that presentation as it was recorded.
Lastly, my opponent sent out an email to several Commonwealth’s Attorney’s asking that they disseminate the following email boasting about taking down Morrissey with the following statement:
From: Bill Neely <BNeely@spotsylvania.va.us>
Date: December 12, 2014 at 5:36:50 PM EST
Subject: Joe Morrissey guilty plea 12/12/14 Henrico Circuit court
FYI & please share this with our fellow CA’s, attached is a copy of the guilty plea “fighting” Joe Morrissey entered at 1:30 PM today in Henrico Circuit Court.
Morrissey is now in jail serving his 6 month sentence.
First thing Monday I will forward a certified copy of this plea & conviction to the Virginia State Bar which, given that contributing is a CRIME OF MORAL TURPITUDE, should result in the Bar seeking to again revoke again (permanently) Morrissey’s license to practice law in Virginia.
Finally I must add that none of this would have been possible without the first rate police work of the Henrico Police Dept.
***** The misdemeanor crime of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor IS NOT a crime of moral turpitude and Joe Morrissey is still a licensed attorney in Virginia.*****
The Antosh Case: Three Law Enforcement Officers Shot with Two Wounded
I simply addressed plea agreements in my closing – not cases that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We all know that experts and juries can disagree on evidence. That being said, I find it incredibly difficult to believe that the officers who were on scene and dealt with him would not convince a jury as to his mental status. Obviously, the defense was worried about that as well as they entered pleas on this matter.
Moreover, if someone is insane at the time of the offense, how can they plea guilty to anything? They were either not guilty of their crimes by reason of insanity or they were not? If my opponent truly thought he was insane, then convicting Mr. Antosh of the crimes was not the correct thing to do. Lastly, he pled guilty BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT after consulting with his private counsel. That standard is well above the probable cause threshold my opponent talks about.
The biggest problem that I have with this case was the manner in which it was handled by my opponent. He indicates that he discussed the matter with Sheriff Harris and Jett, but he did not respect their desires that this matter be taken to trial or a harsher punishment dealt to Mr. Antosh.
As important is the fact that at least one of the deputies who was shot was never consulted with and learned of the plea agreement through an article in the Free Lance Star per that deputy. Prosecutors also are legally required to discuss plea agreements with victims, with the prosecutor having the final say, but it must be discussed. My opponent did not have the conversations he was and is legally required to have with at least one of the victims in this particular case and that is outrageous.
The Kangas/Suggs Case: Caged Children
As to the caged children incident (Kangas/Suggs); I disagree and find the law more than sufficient to prove that case. I also find it ironic that after 27 years in office, he only then found the law to be insufficient to prosecute these crimes. My opponent’s immediate response when this story was picked up by local and national media outlets was not to justify his decisions in the case, but rather to send a heated email to the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Department command staff chastising them for issuing a press release on the case.
In his press release, he stated his reasoning was based upon a case Morris v. Commonwealth, 272 Va. 732, 636 S.E.2d 436 (2006) where my opponent described the facts as: (fecal covered children allowed to leave their home & play by the highway under very dangerous conditions by a drug-addicted mother who was “taking a nap” – and who had allowed this to happen before).
However, the case he mentioned, the facts the Court made its ruling on were that the Commonwealth did not prove the mother was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, that she could have simply fallen asleep. Additionally the children were found playing in the woods behind the house, and one child had a spot of dried fecal matter on his leg.
Additionally my opponent never discusses Virginia Code Section 40.1-103. The law states It shall be unlawful for any person employing or having the custody of any child willfully or negligently to cause or permit the life of such child to be endangered or the health of such child to be injured, or willfully or negligently to cause or permit such child to be placed in a situation that its life, health or morals may be endangered, or to cause or permit such child to be overworked, tortured, tormented, mutilated, beaten or cruelly treated. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
I believe this case could have been argued utilizing this statute. Who would not feel that a child is tortured, tormented, cruelly treated, or health may be endangered under the circumstances described in this case?
Church Youth Director Case: Sex with a Minor
Since my opponent himself brought up a church youth director case that I never mentioned, I will touch on a different one of those. Visit, http://m.fredericksburg.com/news/crime_courts/spotsylvania-youth-pastor-guilty-of-indecent-liberties-with-girl/article_b00bb34a-a295-11e4-9504-63ee456b3868.html?mode=jqm
As you can see, this case was a plea agreement to an entirely suspended sentence in a sexual assault case involving a youth pastor engaged in a several year relationship with an underage girl.
In closing, the reason these cases were referenced is because my opponent ended his comments for the evening with “I NEVER DO PLEA AGREEMENTS IN CASES OF VIOLENT CRIME OR SEXUAL ASSAULT.” The Antosh case is an example of a violent crime. I know my opponent called the officer’s injuries “flesh wounds” but the attack on those officers was a violent crime. Most consider adult youth pastors and elected state delegates engaging in sex with underage children as sexual assaults.
Contrary to my opponent’s comments, one only has to look at articles in the Free Lance Star to know that he and his Office routinely enter into plea agreements (charges and sentence agreed upon) with defendants who are charged with violent crimes or sexual assault. Many times, I have no doubt that they are justified in doing so, but according to my opponent’s statements at the NAACP meeting, they do not do them at all. One may look at the Spotsylvania court records to see hundreds of others. One may view two recent armed robbery defendants, Adam Perminter and David Ward who entered into agreed upon plea agreements within the last month. One received two years and the other four years for the armed robbery of 7-11. This was the third robbery each was involved in. They received 15 and 10 ½ respectively in the City of Fredericksburg after pleas were entered to the charges and arguments were heard by the Circuit Court on sentencing. Robbery and the use of firearms during a robbery are violent crimes!
My opponent’s comment at the NAACP meeting was not a half truth, it was 100% entirely untrue and it is incredibly interesting that he felt the need to go onto Facebook the very next day to DEFEND THE VERY THINGS HE ENDED THE MEETING BY SAYING HE NEVER DOES.
Lastly, my statement was 100% true and accurate as I stated my opinion, and before questioning my integrity and my comments, perhaps my opponent should consider his own closing remarks that everyone present heard him make. One that he and everyone present knew to be 100% false.