Former VA worker convicted of sexual battery of patients
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former physician assistant who told investigators he didn’t “have any business in medicine” has been convicted of sexually abusing patients at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Kansas.
Jurors found 66-year-old Mark Wisner guilty Wednesday of criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and three counts of sexual battery. Prosecutors alleged he performed unnecessary and improper genital examinations from 2012 to 2014 while working at the Eisenhower Veterans Administration Medical Center in Leavenworth. Veterans who testified against Wisner hugged in celebration as he left the courtroom, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“These vets have been through a lot,” Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said. “They’ve been through a lot with their service. They’ve been through a lot coming back to America and then having to deal with this.”
Wisner surrendered his medical license in 2015 after at least seven patients accused him of abuse, and medical regulators said at the time that others could come forward. Wisner agreed in a consent order that he violated the law by having inappropriate sexual contact with patients and overprescribing medication. He faces at least a dozen lawsuits, with some former VA patients seeking $3 million in damages. The hospital has said it stopped Wisner from seeing patients and began an investigation after the allegations surfaced.
During the trial, the prosecution played a taped interview to jurors of Wisner talking to investigators.
“All I can say is, I truly messed up. I’m totally, completely — no control,” Wisner, of Horton, told investigators on the recording. “I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel good about what happened to these patients.”
The investigators questioned Wisner during the 2015 interview about targeting young or muscular VA patients, taking steps to convince them to return for regular treatment at the hospital and attempting to cover his tracks by maintaining false medical records.
“I don’t have any business in medicine. Period,” Wisner also told the investigators before being charged.
Four former patients of Wisner testified as prosecution witnesses about being subjected to unorthodox and embarrassing treatments by the VA physician assistant. Witnesses said Wisner made sexually suggestive comments about their anatomy.
Wisner did not testify on his own behalf. Defense attorney John Bryant attempted to show federal and county law enforcement investigators failed to pursue leads that didn’t fit a narrative of Wisner as sexual predator who targeted fragile patients.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 29. He could receive more than a decade in prison.