Crime

Sex assault claims grow against former employee at VA Medical Center in Leavenworth

Mark E. Wisner
Mark E. Wisner

What was once a trickle has become a cascade of lawsuits over the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth.

Nearly two dozen lawsuits have been filed in federal court over the alleged misconduct of former physician assistant Mark E. Wisner. The pace of filings has picked up since a judge’s recent ruling denying the government’s motion to dismiss one of the suits. Attorneys say they expect dozens more lawsuits to be filed in the coming months.

Kansas City attorney Dan Curry said Friday that his office alone may have 40 or more clients who have claims against Wisner and the U.S. government.

Wisner, 65, is also facing criminal charges of aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery in Leavenworth County District Court.

He is scheduled to go to trial April 3 in the criminal case.

The suits involve veterans, many of whom were injured in combat, who sought treatment at the medical center.

The most recent lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., mirrors the allegations made in previous suits.

The latest one was filed on behalf of a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

During physical exams, Wisner allegedly massaged the man’s genitals, saying sometimes that he was checking for “lumps for cancer,” according to the suit.

Wisner did not wear gloves during the exams and would inquire about the man’s sex life and ability to perform sexually, according to the suit.

“As he performed inappropriate exams, Defendant Wisner made comments, such as ‘things are looking good down there,’ ” the suit says.

Wisner also allegedly sought to gain the man’s trust.

“I am your battle buddy, you can trust me. I was a medic in combat, and you trusted them when you were in combat and needed medics and you can trust me,” he allegedly told the man.

After VA officials began receiving complaints about Wisner, he voluntarily surrendered his license to practice as a physician assistant.

In February 2015, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts revoked his license to practice and found that he had used his position at the medical center to “commit sexual battery crimes against veteran patients,” according to the suit.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

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