Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Dozens of Kansas veterans were sexually abused during medical exams. Now the VA will pay millions to settle their lawsuits
The United States government has agreed to pay $6.97 million to settle dozens of civil lawsuits filed by military veterans sexually abused during medical exams in Kansas, attorneys for the veterans announced Tuesday.
Kansas City, Mo.-based law firm Brown and Curry said in a news release that the money is being shared by 82 victims of Mark Wisner, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting veterans during improper and medically unnecessary genital exams from 2012 to 2014. The assaults, which included fondling and intrusive questions about patients' sex lives, happened while veterans were under Wisner's care at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth.
Wisner was convicted in criminal court in 2017 of criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery. The 68-year-old is listed as a minimum-security inmate in the Norton Correctional Facility.
The civil lawsuits say veterans administration officials ignored signs that Wisner "was committing widespread, large-scale malpractice" on patients and failed to report his conduct to police and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, the state's medical licensing agency.
"What happened at the VA Medical Center should have never occurred, and Mark Wisner should not have been permitted to continue working," Dan Curry, an attorney for the veterans, said in the news release.
"Multiple times, the VA administration at that hospital had reports that Wisner was behaving inappropriately. One of his earliest victims committed suicide not long after the VA police interviewed him about Mark Wisner. This was years before Wisner physically assaulted more than 90 veterans. Someone needed to connect the dots."
The VA has previously said it halted Wisner's patient visits and launched an investigation after the abuse allegations surfaced. Wisner worked at the hospital from 2008 to 2014.
He surrendered his medical license in 2015 after at least seven patients complained about the abuse.
Curry in the news release said the $6.97 million settlement "was a compromise" to avoid making the veterans wait for a resolution that could take years had the cases gone to trial.
A Missouri judge decided how to divide the money among the veterans who sued. As of last week, all payments had been distributed.
Jason Weiser, a Bonner Springs veteran who sued over Wisner's actions and participated in the settlement, said in the release that he's glad the case is over and that the VA acknowledged "that what happened was wrong."
"I hope they make changes for the better," he said.
©2019 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.