Mercer magistrate appointed to hear Plants abuse allegations - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Mercer County magistrate appointed to hear domestic battery charge against Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants

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A Mercer County magistrate has been assigned to the domestic battery case involving Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants, who was charged with using excessive force to discipline one of his sons.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis appointed Magistrate Michael D. Flanigan to hear the case after Family Court Judge Mike Kelly and Kanawha County Magistrate Julie M. Yeager, who preside over domestic violence cases in Kanawha County, were disqualified.

Plants had turned himself in March 31 after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest. The complaint alleges he used a leather belt to discipline the boy, who officers said had a six- or seven-inch bruise on his thigh when they interviewed him.

Plants' ex-wife, Allison, reported the incident, telling troopers she'd overheard her sons talking about it in late February.

Troopers who investigated the complaint said the boy told them his father struck him with the belt more than 10 times after he'd shoved his step-brother, who had taken his scooter without his permission.

Plants, however, has said he and his ex-wife had agreed that spanking was an appropriate form of discipline and it was never an issue until he remarried.

Plants also is charged with violating a domestic violence order issued in February barring him from contacting his ex-wife or their sons. He said he'd spotted his children unattended outside a local pharmacy and stood with them until his ex-wife came out of the store. Flanigan had previously been assigned to that case, set for a status hearing at 10 a.m. May 21 in Kanawha County.

Former McDowell County Prosecutor Sid Bell is representing the state in both cases, while Plants is represented by Charleston attorney Jim Cagle.