Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher has filed an appeal of a merit commission's decision not to terminate a firefighter charged with child molestation.

On Nov. 7, the Terre Haute Fire Merit Commission voted 3 to 1 to suspend firefighter Rodger Plunkett, 46, of Paris, Illinois, for one year without pay.

The basis of Fisher's appeal, filed Wednesday by City Attorney Darrell “Eddie” Felling II, is listed as procedural error; arbitrary, capricious or illegal findings by the commission; and a failure of the commission to make a final determination.

The appeals asks Judge Michael Lewis in Vigo Superior Court 6 to order a complete transcript of the commissions record of the case and to set the matter for a hearing.

During an executive session on Oct. 30, Fisher presented the merit commission with information that Plunkett had been arrested twice 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 operating-while-intoxicated convictions, saying the department failed to prove the charge to the commission's satisfaction.

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

Plunkett had been on administrative leave with pay since his Sept. 4 arrest.  He faces five counts of child molestation and has a Feb. 24 trial date. He was released from Vigo County Jail on Oct. 24 after posting $100,000 bond.

The merit commission said Plunkett will be reinstated as a member of the department if his criminal case is resolved without a conviction.

If he is convicted, the department will again have to petition the commission to terminate Plunkett's employment.

Fisher said after the meeting he disagreed with the decision and would appeal it.

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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