news 6 days ago

Plunkett, firefighter charged with molestation, dies

The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind. — Lisa Trigg The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.

Feb. 14-- Feb. 14--A suspended Terre Haute firefighter charged with child molestation has died, and the criminal case against him in Vigo Superior Court 1 has been dismissed.

Rodger L. Plunkett II, 47, was found Thursday morning at his home at 6926 Old Paris Road, West Terre Haute.

Sheriff John Plasse said police were notified at 7:21 a.m. that Plunkett had sent a text message to a person saying he was going to hang himself. Plasse said the death is being investigated to rule out foul play.

Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos said an autopsy for Plunkett likely will be conducted Friday. She declined to comment on the cause and manner of death until after the autopsy.

Plunkett was due to appear in court for a hearing Thursday. He faced three counts of child molestation as Class A felonies and two counts of child molestation as Class C felonies.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Plunkett performed sex acts with two minor children when they were age 7 and younger. Those children are now adults. The victims did not report the abuse until recently.

Plunkett had posted bond and was released from jail while the case was pending.

After Plunkett's arrest, Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher had sought Plunkett's dismissal based on departmental disciplinary charges not related to the molestation case.

The city's fire merit commission, however, imposed a one year, unpaid suspension. It said Plunkett's status would be reviewed again were he convicted on the molestation charges.

Fisher then sought to overturn the merit board's decision in court so he could terminate Plunkett.

Fisher on Thursday said that case likely would be withdrawn given Plunkett's death, although the chief had yet to speak to City Attorney Eddie Felling, who was not available Thursday.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

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