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Special Magistrate Says Plants Can Continue Supervised, Limited Visits With Sons

Reported: Apr. 11, 2014 1:25 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 11, 2014 2:10 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- The criminal case against Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants continues to play out in court.

On Friday, a special magistrate assigned to the case agreed to modify conditions of his bond, mirroring an agreement already set in family court by Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller, allowing supervised visits with his two sons to continue.

Plants is currently facing two separate misdemeanor charges of violating a domestic violence protective order and domestic battery.

Plants is accused of whipping his son with a leather belt, leaving a 6 to 7-inch "U" shaped bruise on the boy.

Plants' ex-wife, Allison Plants, went to State Police with pictures of the injury. She got a domestic violence protective order against her ex-husband that prohibited him from having contact with her or their two sons.

Plants was charged March 18 with violating the domestic violence protective order.

He was charged on March 31 with domestic battery in relation to the belt incident. Plants has previously said he and ex-wife had agreed that spanking, on occasion, was an appropriate form of discipline.

On April 7, Mercer County Magistrate Mike Flanigan, who was appointed on March 21 as special magistrate in the case, wrote a memo to special prosecutor Sid Bell, and Plants' attorney James Cagle. In it, Flanigan said "no other magistrate other than myself had any authority to enter orders or take any actions in this case. However, on March 28, 2014, after Mr. James. M. Cagle, counsel for the defendant Mark Plants, had filed a motion to modify bond conditions, Kanawha County Magistrate Kim Aaron granted the motion, even though she did not have any jurisdiction over the case."

During a hearing on the bond conditions on Friday, Flanigan said procedures in the case must be handled properly.

"The entire state is watching. This has to be done correctly," he said.

Flanigan agreed to the bond modification conditions.

Keller's family court order also said Plants must undergo counseling, which would lead to the dismissal of the domestic violence protective order.

Cagle said during Friday's hearing that Plants had completed counseling. He read statements from the psychologist's report in court. "We do not perceive any imminent safety threat to Mr. Plants resuming normal contact with his children," Cagle said the report stated.

Plants did not make a statement after Friday's hearing, as he has done in the past.

Prosecutors say Allison Plants did not have an issue with modifying the bond. She was not present at the Friday hearing.

Cagle has also filed a motion to have the domestic battery charges dismissed, saying Mark Plants had a constitutional protected right to control his child. Flanigan said that motion, and any other motions, would be taken up during a hearing set for May 21.



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