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Terre Haute firefighter charged with child molestation has been suspended without pay

The Terre Haute Fire Merit board suspended Rodger Plunkett II without pay for one year starting November 7. That's after Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher recommended he be fired for violating the departments rules and regulations.

Posted: Nov 7, 2019 9:40 PM
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 6:27 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A Terre Haute firefighter that is currently facing child molestation charges has been suspended for a year without pay.

It happened during a Thursday evening Terre Haute Fire Merit Board meeting.

The merit board voted to suspended Rodger Plunkett II for 1 year starting Thursday. That's after Fire Chief Jeff Fisher recommended he be fired for violating rules and regulations. 

He was previously on paid administrative leave.

Plunkett was arrested in early September after he was accused of molesting the two girls between 1998 and 2005.

A person close to Plunkett told police he had been sending her animated digital images, including child pornography, to her phone for months.

Plunkett recently bonded out of jail.

During a meeting three weeks ago, he was granted a continuance.

Thursday night the board said they could only prove 3 of the 6 things that were brought before them in the case. These were only regarding his violations of rules and regulations within the department. 

2 of those were charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence. Plunkett was arrested for that in Hamilton County, Ind. and Vigo County, Ind. 

The board said the other reasoning was Plunkett took a photo of 2 unknown men engaging in sexual activity. He then photoshopped the face of another member of the fire department and a Terre Haute citizen onto the photo and distributed it. The board said Plunkett admitted to this but insisted it was out of fun and not malice. 

Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher said he is disappointed by the decision. 

"I thought I would be relieved once a decision was made, but I still feel the same way," Fisher said. "I'm sorry that the department has to go through something like this. I'm sorry for my firefighters and like I said I'm disappointed in their decision, but we'll move forward"

The board said if after 1 year Plunkett still had cases pending he will remain on unpaid leave.

If at the end of one year there is no criminal conviction in his case, the board said he will be reinstated into his old position with the department.

If there is a conviction in his case, the petition to fire Plunkett will come back to the Merit Commission Board for consideration.

Right now, Fisher said he and the City Attorney are looking into if they can appeal the boards' decision before the year is up. 

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