Judge sets pretrial hearing for firefighter accused of molestation

Rodger Plunkett

A Vigo County judge Thursday set a pretrial date for suspended Terre Haute firefighter Rodger Plunkett, who faces five charges of child molestation.

In a 60-day case review, Judge John Roach in Superior Court 1 set a pre-trial date of Feb.13. A jury trial is set for Feb. 24.

Plunkett's attorney, Joseph Etling, told the judge he needs to "make sure some statements by the (Terre Haute Fire) department are given to us" prior to the pre-trial date.

Earlier this month, the Terre Haute Fire Merit Commission suspended Plunkett for one year without pay for violating the department's code of conduct.

The commission determined Plunkett, 46, of Paris, Illinois, and formerly of Terre Haute, had been arrested twice before for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and had circulated a doctored photo of two men performing sexual acts, one with the face of a Terre Haute firefighter edited in and the other with the face of a local citizen edited in.

The commission dismissed a charge alleging Plunkett operated city vehicles and department apparatuses while his license was suspended per his OWI convictions, saying the department failed to prove the charge to the commission's satisfaction.

His suspension without pay is to end Nov. 6, 2020.

If Plunkett's molestation case is resolved without a criminal conviction, the merit commission said Plunkett will be reinstated as a member of the department. If he is convicted, the fire department will again have to petition the commission to terminate Plunkett's employment.

Plunkett was arrested Sept. 4 on the three Class A and two Class C felony charges. According to a probable cause affidavit, Plunkett performed sex acts with two minor children when they were age 7 and younger. Those individuals are now adults; they reported the abuse recently. He was released from Vigo County Jail on Oct. 24 after posting $100,000 bond.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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