KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Tuesday, the US paid almost $7 million to 82 sexual assault victims of a former physician’s assistant at the VA Medical Center in Leavenworth.
Mark Wisner is in prison after being convicted in Leavenworth County of multiple crimes including criminal sodomy and sexual battery. On Tuesday. the Treasury made the final payout of a settlement covering dozens of veterans who made the allegations in federal lawsuits.
“It was enough to just get it over with and not drag it out another decade,” victim and retired Air Force Major Jason Weiser said.
Similar to the other victims, Wisner performed improper and medically unnecessary genital exams on Weiser, amounting to sexual assault.
“He talked with you. He was very compassionate. His bedside manner was very in depth. You needed something, he gave it to you, no questions asked. He was a fellow veteran. His wall in his office had a bronze star, kind of a big deal,” Weiser said of Wisner’s easy ability to gain patient confidence.
Victims said the VA should have known Wisner was a danger.
In 1992, on his state physician’s assistant license application, Wisner checked yes on the box indicating that he had been convicted of a crime.
The State of Kansas would not say what that crime was, but two years ago, FOX4 reported that in 1987, Wisner was charged with lewd behavior in a California adult bookstore.
“You knew this was going on,” Weiser said. “It was brought to your attention. You ignored it until the media brought it to the forefront.”
In July 2016, over a year before Wisner’s conviction, FOX4 sat down with eight of Wisner’s former patients who all tell similar stories to Weiser’s.
“Every time I went to the guy, he was like, ‘Hey drop your pants,” one of the men said.
The revelation shocked Weiser.
“Honestly when I saw it show up on the news is when I was like, oh,” he said. “Then I got mad. I was like, ‘Who, wait a minute, what?'”
Attorney Dan Curry, who negotiated the settlement with the Justice Department, said he wishes it could have been more, but it was a safe move to settle because the risk of losing a lawsuit against the federal government is much greater than your typical lawsuit.
“Because we are suing the United States,” Curry said. “The US can come at you with defenses that other people don’t have such as immunities and scope of employment type of defenses. And so each one of our guys recognized that there are risks going forward.”
Weiser said he’s two-thirds whole from this experience.
Wisner is in prison and Weiser has been compensated by the government. But the last piece of his healing will come when the VA makes changes to ensure veterans in the future are protected.
“We will salute smartly and do what we are told, but when you guys know something is going on, fix it. Do better,” Weiser said to VA administration.
Curry said it’s not the end of the line for civil lawsuits filed by veterans. He believes there are 10-20 more that were not included in the consolidation of the cases that led to the settlement.