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New family court order issued in Plants case

By Kate White, Staff writer

A family court judge kept in place a domestic violence protective order against Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants on Thursday, but lifted some restrictions against the prosecutor’s contact with his children.

Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller entered a “final” domestic violence protective order to replace a temporary order from earlier this year. The new order will stay in place for 90 days.

State Police said Plants struck his son with a leather belt, leaving a 6- to 7-inch bruise. He is charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.

Plants is also charged with violating an emergency protective order issued by Kanawha Family Court Judge Mike Kelly, also a misdemeanor. Police say he violated the order by approaching his children outside of Fruth Pharmacy.

After Kelly granted Plants’ ex wife, Allison, an emergency domestic violence petition, Kelly and other Kanawha family court judges recused themselves, and Keller was appointed to the case.

On March 21, Keller entered an order continuing Kelly’s temporary order that said Plants would attend counseling and have supervised visitation with his sons, among other things. Thursday’s order lifts supervised visits, but still prohibits overnight stays.

Plants has said he has completed counseling. Keller wrote in the order that she would address more specific issues about the case in a separate letter. Everything but judge’s orders are sealed in family court cases.

The family court judge wrote that, in addition to his initial violation of the protective order, Plants has “engaged in certain behaviors ... that constitute civil violations of the protective provisions [of the original order].”

Keller determined that a final order would allow Plants to have “increased unsupervised contact with his children, but will allow meaningful protection from physical and emotional abuse for the children and their mother.”

“Though not a regular practice, corporal punishment has on occasion been used to discipline the Plants children. However, this was not like previous times. Mark Plants injured his son, causing significant bruising,” Keller wrote in the order. “Though Mark Plants did not intend to injure his son, the incident was significant and serious enough to warrant the issuance of a protective order.”

The order states Plants will no longer use corporal punishment to discipline his sons.

Plants made a deal with special prosecutor Sid Bell, appointed to prosecute him, last month, where he also agreed not to use corporal punishment. That deal would put Plants on a one-year probationary period. If he didn’t get in trouble after a year, the charges would be dismissed.

But, Bell filed a motion several days after a magistrate approved the deal saying it needed to be changed. Bell’s motion states those charged with domestic violence aren’t allowed to participate in pre-trial diversion programs. A hearing is set for Tuesday to address that motion.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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