CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- All seven circuit judges in Kanawha County have recused themselves from any involvement in the investigation into child-abuse allegations against county Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants.
West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis signed an administrative order Friday appointing Mercer Circuit Judge Derek Swope to oversee any case that might come from a State Police investigation.
A State Police spokesman said Thursday the agency began investigating Plants after his ex-wife, Allison Plants, filed a complaint that Mark Plants "abused one of his children by disciplining him in an excessive manner."
Swope will be in charge of motions made to disqualify a prosecutor from any criminal abuse or neglect case and appoint a special prosecutor, the order states.
Sgt. M.S. Adams of the State Police Crimes Against Children Unit in Wheeling is handling the investigation, State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous said Thursday.
Kanawha Family Court Judge Mike Kelly issued an emergency domestic-violence protection order Thursday ordering Mark Plants to stay away from his ex-wife and two sons. Kelly and the other Kanawha family court judges also have recused themselves, and Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller has been assigned to the case, according to an order from the Supreme Court.
Mark and Allison Plants have two sons. She filed for divorce in June 2012.
Plants has since married Sarah Foster, his former secretary. He recently has been criticized for the $15,000 in pay raises she received during the four years she worked for Plants. Foster also had multiple motor-vehicle violations dismissed in magistrate court without proof that the violations were corrected.
The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel has an open investigation into Plants, and the prosecutor has said that it's regarding the alleged favoritism.