A former VA physician's assistant has been ordered by a judge to spend 187 months in prison on five charges of sex crimes against veterans.
Mark Wisner, 66, was sentenced Friday for aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and three counts of sexual battery.
Originally, the jury sentenced Wisner to 223 months in prison, but after speaking with the district attorney's office it was decided that three of the years would be served concurrently, reducing the total months served to 187.
"Judge Gunnar Sundby followed the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines when handing down his sentence," a release said. Specifically, Wisner was sentenced to 155 months for aggravated criminal sodomy, and 32 months for aggravated sexual battery. The judge ruled that the three misdemeanor sexual battery charges will run concurrently.
A jury found Wisner guilty of sexual misconduct involving four patients at the Leavenworth, Kansas VA Medical Center when he was a physician's assistant. His medical license was revoked in 2015, shortly after he resigned from the VA.
Wisner was convicted of sex crimes several decades ago.
Separate lawsuits have also been filed against the Veterans Administration, claiming it did not investigate Wisner’s record or oversee his practice at the hospital.
Wisner did not testify during his trial over the summer and he also had nothing to say on Friday. Wisner's attorney asked the court to take mercy on his client. He said Wisner's age should be considered in the sentencing.
The judge disagreed.
Two of the victims provided written statements.
One said, “I’ve had to run away to find peace in a disaster zone.” Another said he felt “sadness, madness and complete devastation" after the assault. “I was afraid to show I was vulnerable as a man and as a Marine." “You won’t break me," he said. "You can’t break me. You tried everything to break me and you didn’t."
Another victim addressed Wisner and the court. He referred to Wisner as a father figure and said how he gave him 23 medications at one time in one month. He said, "I felt safer in Iraq than I did with you." "I'm not a victim here," he said. "I'm a United States veteran. I was victimized."
Mike Jones, Assistant County Attorney, said he hopes the case gives survivors of sexual assault and abuse hope that they can get justice. “These men showed that these men persevered and you can do it. So, the message would be, if you can get yourself in to law enforcement or someone to talk about it, do it.” “Like all sex offenses," he said, "the victims struggled to come forward. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female or the circumstances; it’s hard for them to come forward.”
“I always hate to characterize these things as wins and losses," he said with regard to the sentence, "but it’s what we hoped he would do.”
“I hope it doesn’t discourage any veterans from going to hospitals and doctors," he added, "but that’s a question for another day.”
Todd Thompson, Leavenworth County Attorney, said, "This was just a horrific crime. Not only the despicable acts Wisner performed, but also violating the trust of patients, U.S. Veteran patients. All the men that testified served our country heroically, and they deserved the best care, not victimization."
Usually, judges will prepare a statement before sentencing. On Friday, however, the judge did not and said the facts of the case stand alone and that the court had nothing else to add.
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