Child’s parents ask that prosecution cease against Morris

Published 9:42 am Friday, January 27, 2017

The mother and father of the child who was last year allegedly abused by his stepfather, Del. Richard “Rick” Morris, are asking that further legal action against him be stopped. Their request is intended for the sake of their son, but so far those pleas are being disregarded for reasons the mother believes are based in politics, not justice.


In September, the Republican delegate was charged on several counts of hurting both his wife, Kathryn, and one of her children. During the hearing this past December at the Suffolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the child in question admitted to having lied about the allegations. As a result, all but one of the charges of child cruelty were dismissed.

Earlier this week, that matter came before a grand jury, which handed four indictments against Morris; the aforementioned charge and another, both rated as felonies; and two for domestic assault and battery, both Class I misdemeanors.

Shukita Massey, assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Hampton, confirmed the charges on Tuesday. She added that the Virginia Supreme Court has appointed a judge to oversee the case, and a new hearing is to be scheduled.

The delegate, whose territory includes Franklin and part of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, confirmed during a phone call on Thursday morning that he turned himself in to the Suffolk Police Department on Tuesday; Morris added that he was released on his own recognizance.


Kathryn Morris and her ex-husband, Lennis Herd, each sent in emailed statements to The Tidewater News on Wednesday explaining their reasons. The entirety can read below this article, but in excerpt she wrote: “I don’t believe it’s in my son’s best interest to be forced to take the witness stand again. I have told this to the prosecutor and I believe they are using my son as a pawn in their political games and could care less about my son.”

Herd: “I love my son very much, but we are trying to get the help he needs to correct some behavior issues and I do not believe it is in C.H.’s best interest to be forced to continue this.”

Speaking with Kathryn Morris on Wednesday night, she reiterated that the request made by Herd and herself not to continue for their child’s sake “doesn’t seem to matter.”

Nor does she now believe that the two charges of child cruelty have enough supporting events.

“I was not aiming for charges,” Kathryn said of the time when detectives were called to investigate.

She later emailed the paper the following statement:

“The request to the prosecutor was that our son not be required to testify. He was caught in numerous lies and he said he didn’t wish to do this anymore. He said that to me, his therapist and the prosecutor. The prosecutor disregarded C.H.’s and his parent’s wishes.

“As to the charges going forward, I have always said it didn’t happen, this is nothing new. I can’t believe the prosecutor is going forward without any evidence.

“At no time did I ever request charges against Rick, I had no idea that was the investigator’s intention. She asked questions that seemed to want a certain conclusion. If I had known that she was filing charges I would have given the full story and my involvement in it.

“My son has some severe behavior issues we are trying to work through and this entire process has hindered him getting counselors to assist because of the court case.

“I believe [the detective] has a “win at all cost” attitude to win her case no matter what.”

The paper sought comment from the aforementioned investigator, but she could not be reached. Diana Klink, spokeswoman for the City of Suffolk, stated in an email late Thursday afternoon, “Neither the Suffolk Police Department nor the investigating detective will be responding to the media related to the press release [from Morris and Herd] … due to the pending court cases related to these alleged incidents.”

Massey said on Wednesday that regarding domestic cases, the CA’s office has a “no-drop policy,” which was established long before she became a prosecutor. She added that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s has the final way whether or not a case is dropped.

“We don’t leave it in the hands of victims,” Massey said. “We recognize the victims should not be making such decisions. We take assault and abuse very seriously.”


Kathryn Morris also said on the phone that based on a source she would not name, she believes the continued prosecution is party-driven and that both Hampton Commonwealth Attorney Anton Bell and Massey are Democratic supporters who have donated money to the party.

Massey said she forwarded a copy of the parents’ statements to Bell. Repeated calls were made to his office for comment, but were not returned by his paralegal, Juanita McWhite.

Morris the delegate said on Thursday morning that he believes there’s “overwhelming evidence in my favor,” which will ultimately clear his name. 

Also, “I think that the Commonwealth’s Attorney has its own agenda.

“The conclusion is not hard to come to,” Morris said, citing contributions listed on the Virginia Public Access website (, which tracks donations to individuals or parties. A search shows that Bell contributed $5,100 to the Democratic Party in Hampton 2013; $500 went to Gary McCollum for Senate in 2015; $250 Tanya Bullock for Virginia Beach Council in 2010; $250 to Jimmy Gray for Hampton City Council in 2016; and $250 for Terry McAuliffe for governor in 2013.

“Politics is what it is,” Morris said.


Speaking of politics, the Virginia Democratic Party spokesman Emily Bolton posted that the delegate is on the Courts of Justice Criminal Law Subcommittee meeting that’s soon to hear HB 1851, which concerns penalties for people found guilty of assault against a family member.

She added, “This is beyond politics. This is about decency. Speaker [William] Howell and the Republican caucus should remove Delegate Morris from all committee assignments and unequivocally demand his resignation. Any response short of calling for his resignation is acceptance of domestic abuse and violence against children. While we respect the judicial process, if you have been charged with cruelty against children, you should not have the opportunity to serve the people of the Commonwealth.”

Bolton could not be reached for comment on both the parents’ request and the aforementioned statement.

Howell, who had joined other Republican leaders this past September asking for the delegate’s resignation before he even had a hearing, has seemingly changed his mind. The Richmond Times-Dispatch on Tuesday reportedly quoted Howell (R-Stafford): “In our system of justice, a man is innocent until he’s proven guilty,” Howell said. “And that counts for Delegate Morris as well as anybody.”

The speaker could not be reached via phone or email for comment.

Parents’ statements on Morris case

The following comments came to the newspaper via email from Kathryn Morris and Lennis Herd.

Kathryn Morris:
“Lennis and I are divorced and we are both on active duty with the U.S. Navy. We love our son immensely, but he has had difficult behavioral issues we’ve been trying to resolve with C.H. for a long time. I asked Rick to assist me with disciplining C.H., but Rick would not do so without his father’s permission. We had a family meeting to discuss C.H.’s behavior and I asked Lennis that Rick assist me, which he gave his permission. Rick and I are currently separated as we work through custody and visitation of our little children we have together.

“Our son has a history of fabricating stories which we’ve tried to address, and it is very difficult at times to know what is the truth and what is not from our son. I know that Rick did not abuse my son as I was there and he was trying to correct C.H.’s behavior for a very severe issue. Unfortunately, C.H. learned he could make accusations against Rick and the situation spiraled out of control. I feel the police detective only asked questions that supported her conclusions and has targeted us since. I never made any charges against Rick and I only halfway answered some questions the detective was asking. Had I known that the detective would file charges against Rick, I would have made a full and complete disclosure of the facts, circumstances and not simply answer questions that supported her conclusion.

C.H. was caught lying on several occasions concerning these allegations against Rick and he directly told me, his therapist and the prosecutor that he did not wish to continue in this case against Rick. I don’t believe it’s in my son’s best interest to be forced to take the witness stand again. I have told this to the prosecutor and I believe they are using my son as a pawn in their political games and could care less about my son.”

Lennis Herd:
“I gave Rick my permission to assist Kathryn with disciplining my sons. I very much respect Rick in his attempt to help Kathryn with my sons, and that he was trying to help them become good young men.

“I do not believe these accusations against Rick. I love my son very much, but we are trying to get the help he needs to correct some behavior issues and I do not believe it is in C.H.’s best interest to be forced to continue this.”