CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Embattled Kanawha County prosecuting attorney Mark Plants said he would consider resigning if a messy domestic spat hinders the ability of his office to handle cases.
“If ever I agree that it’s in the best interests of the office for me to resign, I’ll resign tomorrow,” said Plants, who was elected in 2009. “Being a prosecutor is not a career job. I love it. I love to be a prosecutor. I love to be in the courtroom but, you know, Mark Plants will go on after this. There will be another prosecutor after me.”
For now, Plants, 37, said he is going nowhere.
A guest on Tuesday’s edition of MetroNews “Talkline,” Plants discussed the domestic battery charge he is facing for allegedly striking one of his sons, 11, with a belt more than 10 times. There’s a separate charge that he violated the domestic protective order granted to his ex-wife Allison.
The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel has recommended that Plants either be immediately suspended or disqualified— along with everyone else who works in his office—from domestic violence cases involving kids.
Those with the group that oversees the conduct of lawyers argued Plants has a conflict since his attorney, in defending Plants, has said he was “acting within a constitutionally protected right to control his child” when the beating or discipline happened.
“Such representation may be materially limited by his own defense that such alleged criminal conduct is not a violation of the law,” the Office of Disciplinary Counsel said in a filing late last week.
Plants argued such action is legal when it’s “reasonable,” but said he’s waiting on a ruling from the state Supreme Court on the recommendations. “They have complete authority over this and that’s the proper venue for these arguments to be made and there’s a process to be followed,” he said. “I’ll abide and respect any decision that they have.”
During the Tuesday interview with Hoppy Kercheval that lasted nearly 20 minutes, Plants defended his work as a prosecutor and his actions as a father, turning tearful while discussing the positive influence of his own father.
“At the end of the day, I’m being attacked and crimes are being alleged against me and I’m being asked to resign or be suspended and this all boils down to I applied a form of discipline, using a belt, that my ex-wife and I both do, even after the divorce,” said Plants.
When questioned directly about his relationship with his former secretary and new wife, Sarah Foster, Plants maintained it did not affect the operations of the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She is no longer an employee.
“As long as I let someone else set her salary, she could still work in my office right now under the law. I felt like that was inappropriate, that that was not in the best interests of the office, so we made a mutual decision for her to leave,” Plants said.
“Once we determined that there was going to be a relationship, she left immediately.”
The two were married last December. In addition to children from their previous marriages, the couple has one child together.