A former physician assistant is accused of using his position to commit sexual battery and other crimes against at least seven patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas, and a lawyer says yet more victims will emerge.
At least three lawsuits filed in recent weeks in U.S. District Court in Kansas accuse Mark Wisner of conducting unnecessary and improper genital examinations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center. He also faces criminal charges of aggravated criminal sodomy, solicitation and sexual battery in Leavenworth County, just outside Kansas City, Kansas.
Wisner surrendered his medical license last year after at least seven patients accused him of abuse, and medical regulators said at the time that others could come forward.
Daniel Curry, who represents plaintiffs in two of the lawsuits, said Monday that his research, the findings of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and his communications with other attorneys indicate there could be dozens of victims.
Some of the lawsuits also name the Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal government.
In a consent order last year with the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, Wisner agreed he violated the law by having inappropriate sexual contact with some patients, as well as making inappropriate sexual comments and overprescribing. The redacted order does not detail which drugs or treatment he overprescribed.
The order cites a January 2015 letter that Wisner sent to the board.
“I am an impaired practitioner and not capable of patient care … I will not nor find myself capable of any patient contact from the date of this letter and my license should be revoked from this date forward,” he wrote.
A trial date for his criminal case has not been set.
“Not surprisingly, I don’t have a lot to say, except … that my client is innocent until proven guilty,” said Debra Snider, his criminal defense attorney.
Wisner is representing himself in a civil case that was filed last month, and no attorney is listed for two lawsuits filed last week. He did not return a phone message seeking comment left at his Holton home.
“We have done a lot of sex abuse cases over the years, and it is always the person who has finagled their way into a position where they have access to a vulnerable population,” Curry said, noting there is hardly ever a witness in a patient examination room where the patients must rely on a physician assistant for care, treatment and prescriptions.
More lawsuits are “in the pipeline,” Curry said.
“We just hope the VA does the right thing for these vets,” he said.
It is unclear how long Wisner worked at the Leavenworth facility. The hospital said it could not publicly discuss pending litigation, but its spokesman Joseph Burks said Tuesday in an email that it takes “very seriously the safety and well-being” of every veteran patient. He referred questions to the Justice Department, where the person handling media inquiries on that case was not immediately available.
Wisner’s license to practice as a physician assistant was issued in 1993, and he voluntarily surrendered it to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts in in February 2015, according to the consent decree filed with the state regulatory board.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Roxanna Hegeman