Kanawha prosecutor Plants charged with battery of son – Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Police charged Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants with domestic battery today and say he struck his son with a leather belt more than 10 times.
Plants turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest on the misdemeanor charge Monday morning.
This is the second time Plants has been charged this month. He was previously arrested and charged with violating a domestic violence protective order, also a misdemeanor.
In the complaint filed Monday, police say Plants went to his 11-year-old son’s room after the boy shoved his step-brother off of a scooter.
The boy told police that Plants “held him by his arm” and struck him more than 10 times with a leather belt.
Plants then took the boy upstairs and “stood him in front of his step-brother.”
“Do you think I whipped him enough?” the complaint says Plants asked the boy’s step-brother.
Police photographed a “dark purple to brown in color” bruise shaped like a “U” on the boy’s thigh four days after the incident, the complaint states. The bruise was about six to seven inches in length, according to police.
At first, Plants told police he struck his son twice. He later admitted, the complaint states, to striking him “maybe three or four times.”
Plants told police the incident lasted “no more than 20 seconds,” the complaint states.
Plants’ ex-wife, Allison Plants, reported the incident that occurred Feb. 22 to police on Feb. 26. She found out about it after overhearing her younger son ask about his brother’s injury, the complaint states.
Allison Plants was granted an emergency domestic-violence protection order by Kanawha Family Court Judge Mike Kelly in February. All Kanawha judges recused themselves from the case, and the West Virginia Supreme Court appointed Cabell Family Court Judge Patricia Keller to hear it.
Mercer Circuit Judge Derek Swope and Mercer Magistrate Michael Flanigan were appointed to hear any criminal case against Plants.
Swope appointed former McDowell County prosecuting attorney Sid Bell to prosecute Plants.
State Police Sgt. M.S. Adams, of the Crimes Against Children Unit in Wheeling, conducted the investigation into the allegations against Plants. Bell reviewed Adams’ investigation last week.
Magistrate Tim Halloran released Plants on a personal recognizance bond Monday.
Following his arraignment, Plants said he is not guilty of any crime.
“I’m not guilty of any criminal conduct and, at this point, just like any other person accused of a crime, I’ve got to sit back and let the criminal justice system run its course,” he said.
Plants, 37, was first elected Kanawha prosecutor in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. According to court documents, Plants is 6-feet, 2-inches and 280 pounds. He is a former fullback for West Virginia University.
After the child-abuse allegation arose, Plants said during a news conference that he and his ex-wife agreed that spanking on occasion is an appropriate form of discipline.
Both misdemeanor charges he faces carry a penalty of up to one year in prison.
Earlier this month, police say Plants found his children in a vehicle outside a local pharmacy and stayed with them until their mother exited the pharmacy. That, police say, violated the conditions of the DVP that says Plants wasn’t to have contact with Allison Plants or their two sons.
Allison Plants filed for divorce from the prosecutor in June 2012. Mark Plants has since married Sarah Foster, his former secretary. He has been criticized for the $15,000 in pay raises she received during the four years she worked for him. Foster also had multiple motor-vehicle violations dismissed in magistrate court without proof that the violations were corrected. The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel is investigating the alleged favoritism.
At a family court hearing in Cabell County earlier this month, an agreement was reached that said Plants would attend counseling sessions in order to have the DVP dismissed. The family court judge also ruled that Plants could have supervised visits with his two sons, but that the boys aren’t allowed to stay overnight.
During Plants’ arraignment, his attorney Jim Cagle told Halloran that Plants had been with his sons over the weekend and had a scheduled visit with them Wednesday.
Halloran said the agreement reached in family court could serve as the conditions of Plants’ bond.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.
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