Del. Rick Morris files counter abuse claims against wife

Rick Morris (Photo: Suffolk police)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia lawmaker has accused his wife of assault two weeks after authorities charged him with attacking her and a juvenile family member.

Del. Morris says he will not resign; denies allegations

Officials in Suffolk said Wednesday that Republican Del. Rick Morris filed three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery with the local magistrate’s office against Kathryn Denise Morris.

“The decision was ultimately made that charges needed to be brought for the conduct that his wife engaged in at least three different occasions over the last about nine months or so,” said Nicole Belote, Morris’ attorney.

Unlike the assault charges filed against him last month, Suffolk officials said the police department has no involvement with the lawmaker’s claims. Instead, they will be heard by a local magistrate.

In the complaints — which Morris filed at a magistrate’s office — Morris writes about three times when the alleged abuse took place. He says they were in December  2015, February 2016 and August 2016. Morris writes that he and his wife would get into verbal arguments, and then she would become more physical, saying in all three instances, she went into a “screaming rage.”  In one instance, he says she grabbed him by the neck and arm to restrain him. He also says she punched him in the eye and scratched his neck, after he says he made a derogatory comment about her mental state.

Meanwhile, Morris faces felony counts of child endangerment and misdemeanor charges of domestic assault following last month’s police investigation. Police say Morris used excessive physical force against his stepson, including using a belt and a wooden spoon as punishment.  They also say he assaulted his wife.

Morris says in the complaints that he told his wife he wanted a divorce on September 18. He was arrested two days later.

His attorney says these new complaints will not affect his upcoming trial.

“We will prepare out dissent separate, apart from the fact that she has been charged as well.  Now there may be some facts that overlap, there may be some information that we use in his defense,” said Belote.

Top Virginia Republicans have called for Morris’s resignation, saying they are “deeply concerned” by the charges against him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.