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Kanawha County Prosecutor Facing More Criminal Charges

Reported: Mar. 31, 2014 10:20 AM EDT
Updated: Mar. 31, 2014 6:49 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- For the second time in less than two weeks, Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants is facing criminal charges.

The first, when he allegedly violated a domestic violence petition filed by his ex-wife. On Monday, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly striking his son with a leather belt.

Plants turned himself in at the Kanawha County Courthouse on Monday after troopers informed him he had a warrant out for his arrest. He showed up with his wife, and former secretary, Sarah Plants, as well as his attorney Jim Cagle.

The domestic battery charge stems from a complaint made by his ex-wife, Allison Plants, to state police that he used excessive force to discipline their oldest son. Plants, at the time the investigation was made public in February, had classified the incident in question as spanking.

"My ex-wife and I have agreed that spanking, on occasion, is an appropriate form of discipline," he said at a news conference after state police had gone public with the investigation.

State police say Plants struck his son with a leather belt to discipline the boy after he shoved his step-brother off of a scooter. The boy told troopers his dad had taken him by the arm and struck him "more than 10 times" with a leather belt.

According to the criminal complaint, a short time later, Plants took his son upstairs and stood him in front of his step brother and asked the step brother, "do you think I whipped him enough?"

Troopers say a picture taken by Allison Plants showed "an injury which was dark purple to brown in color and was an approximately six to seven inch "U" shaped bruise" on the back of Plants' son's left thigh.

Plants refused to take questions from the media after being released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond, but he did make a brief statement. "I'm not guilty of any criminal conduct. 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 it's course. That's all I have to say right now," he said.

Troopers say Plants initially told them he struck the boy two times, then later stated that he struck him "maybe three to four times." At the conclusion of the interview, Plants told troopers the incident lasted "no more than 20 seconds."

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper anticipates public concern that the office isn't operating to the best of it's ability following Plants' own legal battles, but wants to remind the public that he is innocent until proven guilty.

"Like everyone else, we should all keep in mind that these are allegations. Very serious allegations, but they're not proven," Carper said.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom while Plants was arraigned because Magistrate Tim Halloran does not permit recording devices in his courtroom.

Halloran agreed to let Plants continue with the conditions laid out by a family court judge last week regarding seeing his children. One of those conditions, set forth by Judge Patricia Keller in Cabell County says, "upon the Respondent's evaluation and discharge from Hudson Counseling, the Domestic Violence Petition shall be dismissed."

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin, Jeff Morris) – Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants initially told State Police that he struck his son with a leather belt two times and later said he hit him three or four times, court documents said.

Plants is charged with a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in connection with the incident. He turned himself in Monday and was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond. Speaking to reporters, Plants said he is not guilty of any criminal misconduct.

A complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court said Plants’ ex-wife, Allison, contacted police and made a complaint that Mark Plants had made a significant injury to their son by whipping him with a belt. A trooper interviewed Allison Plants on Feb. 26, and she said she took photographs of the injury and texted Mark Plants about the injury.

The trooper said he interviewed Plants’ son the same day and the boy said on the previous Saturday he was staying at his father’s residence. The boy said he discovered that his scooter was missing from the residence and a short time later he found his stepbrother riding the scooter, the complaint said. The boy said he shoved his stepbrother off of the scooter and returned home a short time later and was met outside by Mark Plants. The boy said he was sent to his room and a few minutes later Mark Plants came in, held him by his arm and struck him more than 10 times with a leather belt, the complaint said. The complaint said the boy told State Police that a short time later, Mark Plants took him upstairs and stood him in front of his stepbrother. The boy said Plants asked the boy’s stepbrother, “Do you think I whipped him enough?”

State Police said photographs of the injury indicate it was dark purple to brown in color and was a 6 to 7 inch “U” shaped bruise on the back of the boy’s thigh, the complaint said.

During an interview with State Police, the prosecutor maintained the incident lasted “no more than 20 seconds,” and he acknowledged that he struck the boy with a leather belt.

"I met last week with Sgt. Adams and Sgt. Hammontree and after reviewing their detailed investigation reports, I called Sgt. Adams late Friday afternoon and advised him to file the complaint for a warrant this week. Mr. Plants is presumed to be innocent of any criminal offense. The photographs of injuries, statements of witnesses and medical examination support the issuance of a warrant alleging the crime of domestic battery," said Sid Bell, who was appointed as special prosecutor to the case.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin, Jeff Morris) -- The misdemeanor domestic battery charge against Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants stems from an allegation that he hit his son with a leather belt.

Plants is accused of striking his son with the belt more than 10 times.

Plants turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Plants maintained that he is not guilty of any criminal misconduct.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin, Jeff Morris) -- Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants maintained Monday that he is not guilty of any criminal misconduct.

Plants spoke to reporters after he turned himself in following the issue of a warrant for his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

Plants' ex-wife has accused of using excessive force disciplining one of their children.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants has turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge was issued.

Plants' ex-wife has accused of using excessive force disciplining one of their children.

Photo is of attorney Jim Cagle, left, who represents Plants, and Mark Plants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) – Eyewitness News has learned an arrest warrant has been issued for Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants' arrest on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

Plants has been embroiled with a dispute with his ex-wife. He was back in court on March 21 after his ex-wife Allison, filed an emergency protective order against him. In her complaint filed in February, she alleged he used excessive force disciplining one of their children, and was not supposed to have any contact with them. Police arrested Plants on March 18 for allegedly violating that protective order, when he saw his kids outside a local pharmacy.

Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller worked out a plan on March 21, specifying how Plants could visit his children under certain conditions. The order requires him to attend counseling and that there could be no corporal punishment of the minor children by either party.

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