Divorces are messy.  Take the impassioned high that accompanies marital bliss, turn it inside out with infidelity, children, financial strains and you have an emotional nuclear blast.  No one escapes unscathed.

Now play out that story in a very public way involving a person in a high profile position and you have the current turmoil involving Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants.

You’ve heard the story by now.  Plants has an affair with an assistant in his office, Sarah Foster, who is married to a Charleston Police detective.  Plants and Foster have a child together, split with their respective partners and marry.

Plants’ ex-wife, Allison, charges Plants punished their 11-year-old son excessively by beating him with a belt, leaving the child with a bruise.  Plants counters that prior to the divorce, he and his ex always agreed on corporal punishment for their children. After an investigation, Plants is charged with domestic battery.

Plants encounters his ex-wife and their two children outside a drug store, resulting in a second criminal charge against him for violating a protective order she obtained following her accusation of child abuse.

The public, unable to look away, polarizes.

Is Plants, a former WVU football player, a hulking brute who beats his children, or a traditional parent who wants to ensure his children understand right from wrong?

Was Plants simply concerned about his two children being alone in their mother’s vehicle outside the pharmacy that night, or did he knowingly break the law by violating a court order?

Did Plants exhibit poor judgment by having an extramarital relationship with an office subordinate or did he find the love of his life as his first marriage disintegrated?

The questions are both awkward and inevitable.

I’ve talked to a number of people about this story in recent weeks who describe Plants as I would—a likeable guy, though I confess to no intimate knowledge of his personal life other than what has already been made public.

Plants’ fundamental problem is that he is the chief law enforcement official of the state’s largest county.  Plants and his office prosecute people for the very crimes he’s accused of committing. And importantly, just like those defendants, he enjoys a presumption of innocence.

There is, however, resolution ahead.  Plants will have his day in court on the two misdemeanor charges.  Additionally,  the state Supreme Court will take up the Office of Disciplinary Counsel’s recommendation that Plants be suspended or that his office be prevented from handling domestic violence cases involving children.

The rule of law and well-practiced procedures provide the basis for sorting out the legal questions here.  These rulings will largely determine whether the two-term prosecutor can continue in his position.

The personal fallout from this very public divorce is another matter.  Someone once told me, “You may not be married for life, but you are divorced for life,” meaning you and your ex must find a way to co-exist.

Here’s hoping that Mark and Allison Plants reach that place someday, and it won’t be on public display.

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  • WW Glasser

    The Plants case is not about divorce.

    It is about poor judgement and truth telling.

    What quality of judgement leads to:

    1. an adulterous office affair
    2. a secret baby
    3. large raises for his paramour
    4. ticket fixing and
    5. a protection order violation

    How truthful is it to claim that beating with a belt is "spanking."

    • JCP

      Where did he get the money to be elected ?

    • Phil

      So you think Plants's judgement is poor ?

      • If it walks like a duck...

        Of course not. Mark Plants is one of the 3 Wise Men! smh

        • Phil

          Anyone seen proof this guy went to law school ?

  • DWM

    My experience and advice. If you had children with an ex, you owe it to those children to do better as parents than you were as husband and wife. Think of it as two people owning a business together and that business is raising your children. In most cases both parents love the children and want what is best for them. Those parents need to ignore the husband and wife hurts and work together for the good of the kids.

    You don't have to like your ex, but you owe it to your children to work with that ex to be the best of parents you can be together. You will find it easier to parent together as a team of ex's than it will be to try to continue the old husband wife battles while you try to parent separately.

    I've been there and it can be done. The question you need to ask yourself, "Do you love your kids and do you want them to be the best they can be?" If the answer is yes, go to work with your ex!

    • Jeff


    • Bull(y) Fighter

      So- You would allow someone to BEAT your child? That is my only question to you.

      • Oh Did Ya?

        It's hard to whistle blow when you do it yourself (Plants' ex wife)

        • Bruise Clues

          So, did the ex wife leave bruises on her children? Is that what you are saying? You KNOW that as factual, how? You must be wishing she did, but you would be wrong. You really can't be sure that she ever whipped them at all. We have only heard Mark say that, and we already know how believable he is.

          • Oh Did Ya?

            I don't agree with that form of punishment for that very point - if a parent uses a belt for punishment anything can happen - buckle comes off, parent connects harder than intended, strike an area if the child that was unintended etc. My point is that could happen to her as easy as him. She blows the whistle on something she does herself. That seems hypocritical to me.

  • Matt

    "In criminal matters, I truly believe that law enforcement officers and prosecutors should be held to a higher standard than the general public."
    Mark Plants
    May 9, 2011
    upon firing an assistant prosecutor for his arrest for DUI.
    (Source: Charleston Daily Mail, May 9, 2011)
    Seems he doesn't apply those "higher standards" to himself.

    • Info

      That employee had two other guilty pleas for DUI. This was his third DUI arrest. BIG DIFFERENCE!

    • Say what?

      So, the assistant was not afforded the presumption of innocence or the right to be treated equally under the law (as Plants has requested). He was not placed on administrative leave and was summarily fired on the spot.

      Do I have this right? Any irony here?

  • Rich

    Divorce cases don't have to be public. They are private by law, even for public officials.
    He's not the first person in public or the private sector to develop a romance with a coworker. Obviously the knowledge that any person--public or private--gets divorced soon gets out. But generally the sordid details remain private, or at worst, the subject of water cooler gossip.
    As an elected official, Plants made it all a public issue by having an affair with a coworker, fathering a child with her while both were married, giving her raises while he had the affair, and, as was pointed out by other readers yesterday, outright lying about her continuing to work for him after they began their romance. He exacerbated it by getting arrested again, having a press conference, and going on your show. He's brought the publicity on himself.
    Public officials are entitled to private lives. Plants can only blame himself for bringing his private life into the public eye.

    • If it walks like a duck...

      Absolutely! He has started his own reality show, even while his attorneys have tried to turn him off. He deserves all the negative criticism and public humiliation he is getting. He has brought an entire circus to town. This isn't just about an affair or bruising his son, although he would have everyone believe that is the case. He has turned the Kanawha County Prosecutors Office into one which cannot function as it is supposed to. He needs to put his ego aside, step away from the office until his legal matters are resolved. And, keep his mouth shut!

  • The Answer

    Mark Plants is his own worst enemy.
    Saying that..
    Don't know you, don't want to know you.
    I'm going to give you one great piece of advice anyway.

  • jay zoom

    let the court proceedings take there course and the divorce proceedings as well... Maybe Mr. Plants was excessive in the handling of the child maybe not. I am sure most of us got the belt when we were kids and it wasn't broadcast all over the state in which we lived. most of the time we probably deserved it. as is the same for some children these days. my main question is -- I NEVER READ OR HEARD ANY CHARGES FILED AGAINST THE MOTHER OR THE PERSON who left the children unattended in the car. as a father myself I would of been concerned about the well being of my children court order or not. The second charge against him should be dismissed and a charge of endangering the welfare of a child/children and child neglect against the individual who left the children unattended in the car. What would of happened if the children were abducted.

    • Aaron

      Your comments are anecdotal at best. As a court appointed official, Mr. Plants KNEW the consequences of approaching the vehicle. Were he truly concerned about his children as he stated, then he would have went to his car, watched over the kids and waited on their mother to return at which time he would have pulled away without violating the order. As it is, he clearly violated an order knowing the consequences. There is no excuse for such actions and given the circumstances, demonstrates an inordinate amount of ineptitude on Mr. Plants part.

    • Jim G.

      The "left the children alone in the car" is a red herring. Those kids are in middle school and grade school not infants or toddlers. It was also about 7:00 pm in the evening not the middle of the night. He also tried to talk to the child that was spanked about the case.

      I also was spanked with a belt as a child but my parents never left 7 inch bruises. My opinion is that the difference between discipline and a beating is a bruise.

      • Jim

        Leave your little kid in the car with someone under 16 as babysitter, and you can expect a visit from Child Protective Services. I have no problem with a father waiting by the car with his kids rather than leave them unattended (as the mother did). It's a ticklish issue, though, for a man who knows that a protective order was issued pursuant to an angry ex-spouse seeking revenge, when that man is an officer of the court. I'm sure Mr. Plants is glad the court is going to settle this rather than a mob of people whose candidate lost the election against him last time.

        Also, much is made of this "bruise." I got bruised with a belt. Maybe I bruise easier than other people. Maybe Mr. Plants' kid does too. It doesn't necessarily indicate abuse. I've got bruises on me right now (I generally do, form work, yardwork, general clumsiness). I don't feel traumatized.

        • Stop the lying!

          No, leaving a 16 year old in the car with a younger child while you run into a store will NOT get CPS to pay a visit to you. Stop making up shyt to make things look better or worse for either side. The fact that you got belted when you were a kid has nothing to do with today! We use to have slaves, too, but we have learned to be better than that! An accidental bruise from working in a garden or around the house? You want to compare that to the intentional bruising of a child? In your world, is it ok to black someone's eye? I mean, hell, we could get a black eye by stepping on a shovel and having it fly up and hit us! One is an ACCIDENT, the other is PURPOSEFUL! There is a huge difference.

      • Bull(y) Fighter

        Thanks you!

  • Aaron

    Mr. Plants has demonstrated an acute incompetence in this manner at every turn. Had he remained quiet and issued no comments throughout the process, the story would have withered along with little media coverage. Instead he had made this issue public at every turn, trying the case in the court of public opinion and as a result, has tarnished his name beyond repair. If he is not removed from office, he will lose his next reelection as his transgressions will not be forgiven by voters. I know it is too much to ask that he simply slink away and save us all from watching him further destroy his reputation as his actions have proven he is incapable of doing the right thing. How could someone with such intelligence make such unintelligent decisions?

    • Silas Lynch

      That's right, he will likely lose his next election and that's who it is up to, the voters,, not that tired, old pip- squeak of a mayor in Charleston.

      Jones and the Charleston police seem to have a personal beef in this. If Danny Jones were to hold his own policemen to the same "standards" as he wants applied to Plants

      • Aaron

        While I agree Jones is blowhard who likes the sound of his own voice, he does have a vested interest in this matter.

      • The bookman


        Danny Jones is a media hound, for sure. He has it in for Plants, and he certainly can smell the blood in the water. But that doesn't change the fact that the blood has turned the water red. Shame on Jones for his opportunistic behavior to stick to a guy in a public manner of personal transgression, but shame on Plants for giving him countless opportunities over the last few weeks, forever damaging his reputation and embarrassing his family in the process.

        • Silas Lynch

          I'm not defending Plants,, I'm simply condemning Jones for how his actions pervert the system and due process. Certainly two wrongs don't make a right.

          • The Truth

            Agreed. Danny Jones sticking his well snorted nose into this affair is out of bounds.
            On second thought. DJ pontificating from his ivory tower will give us reason for delving into his past, and his many rumored indiscretions.

      • Silas Lynch

        ........ If Danny Jones were to hold his own policemen to the same "standards" as he wants applied to Plants how many of his police would be on suspension at any given time?

        • Cigarman

          Silas, it seems your loathing of Mr. Jones surpasses that of DJ's loathing of Mr. Plants.

  • Silas Lynch

    Gee, Hoppy, I can't tell if you want to be sports reporter or on the Staff at the National Inquirer. The personal fallout from this very public divorce is another matter.

    " Someone once told me, “You may not be married for life, but you are divorced for life,” meaning you and your ex must find a way to co-exist.

    Here’s hoping that Mark and Allison Plants reach that place someday, and it won’t be on public display."

    Really Hop? you conclude with that!! You're the one making it more a "public display" then it need or should be!!

    I'd still like to know if you sought Danny Jones out to make the comments on your show about the situation or did he just suddenly decide to call your show and run his chute about it---

  • Medman

    I remember when Truman Chafin and his wife divorced and both used the Media to fight it out and it sold a lot of newspapers. A good friend told me that it was almost as embarrassing as having a proctology done on Main Street at Noon. The real victims here will be the kids when it is all said and done.

  • Jim N Charleston


    "When divorce plays out in public:"

    -Skippy must write a daily column about it.
    -The Gazette must ask for a resignation (unless it is a democrat, then only if the PPG has done a weeks worth of stories about it).
    -Danny Jones must chime in.
    -Kent Carper must give a followup to Danny Jones to keep pace with air time and print words.
    -People must call Skippy to comment even though nobody really knows what the heck is/has been going on.

    All I Got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston

    • Silas Lynch

      You got Jim!! Hoppy is starting to really disappoint.

      Since the demise of that silly afternoon show on WCHS Radio58 with Rick Johnson all Danny Jones and Kent Carper have done is move their PR head-quarters to Morgantown and let Hoppy carry their political water...Hoppy should just give one show a week to Jones and one show a week to Carper like WCHS use to.

  • thornton

    Plant's fundamental problem(s) may be a temper and the role that temper plays when frustration enters a situation where he feels control has been lost. It's not inconceivable that children or wives or cats could be the recipient of that control-derived frustration once he leaves the public view with it's necessary public face.

    Failure to consider past himself and to accept responsibility for mistakes could well be secondary issues considering his actions with an employee and post the bruise becoming public.
    Someone, somewhere, sometime told him by words or ignoring actions that HE was where importance was bedded. That has not served him well where it actually matters.

    If Plants wants to come on your show again, Hop....say NO.

    • Silas Lynch

      But let me guess Thornton, you haven't a problem with Danny Jones coming on and burying Plant's with his unfounded B.S.

      • thornton

        I reckon Jones has enemies who co-opt most any issue into an opportunity to make a dig at him.
        You...for example.
        Personally, I'm not interested in Jones....I do remember when he served a good rib. Beyond that...he is a non-starter, plus or minus, for me.
        Dig as makes you feel good.

        The issue here for me has always been a Father's discipline, likely fueled by frustration, going overboard a bit. That needs nipped in the bud as Barney might say.
        The world still spins with most bruises of that nature but the kid will grow up and may continue the cycle.
        The potential for cycles of that nature are of no interest to you?....oh well, one will always have individuals focused more on their own frets.

        Any untruths spit out on either side, and I assume they exist pretty much equally, do not erase a bruise. Sadly though, they do appear to distract folks from looking and seeing.

  • Old Man

    I am getting up there in years and I understand that some words such as "whipping" are no longer approiate to use. I expect I was "spanked" many times in my youth and it probably never hurt any less than getting a "whipping". Mr Plants mistake was when he started "Fishing off the company pier".

    • Silas Lynch

      let's be honest-- Danny Jones and his jack-boot thugs have instigated AND tainted this "investigation" from the beginning because the fish Plant's caught while fishing from the end of the "company" pier, was from CPD private stock... Danny Jones is a clown and a bad reflection on the city of Charleston and it's people.

      • Lynch Silas

        Ok, assuming we accept your view of DJ, what the heck opinion do you have of Plant Man? He's to be worshipped for fishing from the CPD "private stock", or even Chicken of the Sea? You make it sound as though Plants deserves a gold star for hooking him a married woman, simply because her husband worked with the CPD. Shameful!

    • rose

      Wise words Old Man.

  • Hop'sHip

    Hoppy, I hear the new rule is that the only laws you have to abide by are those with which you agree. Mr. Plants did nothing wrong in his mind, so nothing wrong was done. Court orders have no validity if Mr. Plants believes that such orders restrict his liberty. He just has to understand that when he prosecutes others who were exercising their liberty.

    • The bookman

      “There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and, more specifically, that an attorney general has,” Holder responded. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.”

      Holder said the Justice Department must defend federal laws on the books unless it concludes that “there is no basis to defend the statute.”

      Eric Holder

      Is this what you are talking about?

      • Hop'sHip

        Maybe. Is he the one being lionized by Fox News for violating the law? I I did a quick Google search on Mr. Holder and I don't think so. Wrong color.

        • Jason412

          Put the women up front so they get shot first!

          • BS

            You should not pick up the crack pipe so early in the morning

        • The bookman

          Idk! I don't watch Fox and rarely read their site.

  • The bookman

    What a sordid story. You know you've lost all credibility when John Q Public extrapolates the conception of your 2 year old child to prove you've lied in a radio interview.

    Maybe Don Nehlen should give him some good advice, as I know he actively supported Mark's campaign. If handled properly from the beginning by stepping aside until resolving these conflicts and staying out of the court of public opinion, he may have been able to survive this personal faux pas. But I think that time has waned. Do yourself a favor Mr. Plants. Resign on your own terms before they toss you out.

  • Jethro

    This is not about Allison or the divorce, but it is about her ex-husbands behavior.

    Plants should resign immediately.

    Hoppy again coddles a miscreant.