Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants is charged with domestic battery of his 11-year-old son. Plants does not refute that he struck the child with a leather belt hard enough to leave a long, purple, U-shaped bruise on the boy’s thigh. But on Monday, Plants asked a Kanawha County magistrate to dismiss the charge, saying he has a constitutional right to inflict corporal punishment on his child, “so long as the punishment is reasonable.”
State troopers did not find Plants’ actions “reasonable.” They allege that the 280-pound man hit his son with a belt 10 times, then asked another child, his stepson, “Do you think I whipped him enough?”
One does not even have to be opposed to spanking to see that Plants went beyond what could be considered reasonable fatherly discipline. While the prosecutor says he did not intend to bruise his child, he cannot tell the difference between discipline and battery. Plants should decently resign from the prosecutor’s office. If he won’t, he should be removed.
This is not the first time Plants has raised questions about his suitability for office.
During his first marriage, Plants employed the wife of a Charleston police detective and gave her rapid raises, even when other members of his courthouse staff suffered pay cuts. She finally became his special assistant at a $45,000 salary. She got traffic tickets that were erased by assistant prosecutors. Plants and his aide evidently were romantically involved while both were on the public payroll. Plants’ wife obtained a divorce in 2012. The aide was divorced last fall, and married the prosecutor two months later in Kentucky. He has two children with his ex-wife and one child with his new wife, the brief says. The State Bar’s legal ethics committee received a complaint against the prosecutor and the two assistant prosecutors who dismissed the aide’s traffic tickets.
Kanawha County needs a prosecutor who can make good, reasoned decisions about protecting the public and prosecuting crimes, including crimes such as child abuse and domestic battery. The county’s population does not need a prosecutor distracted by his own difficulties and whose understanding of reasonable child discipline is so troubling.