Kansas council member revealed to be a registered sex offender
An Edwardsville City Council member is a registered sex offender in Wisconsin, according to information revealed this week.
But Councilman Patrick Isenhour said his 1992 criminal conviction for having sex with a minor was a mistake he made as a young man that should have no bearing on how he does his job today. And although Isenhour was not planning to run for re-election when his second term comes to an end, he now says he will run because of the revelations made this week.
Isenhour, 38, was convicted in January 1992 in Waukesha County, Wis., of second-degree sexual assault of a child. He didn’t serve any jail time for the conviction, but he was placed in a work-release program for six months and served two years’ probation.
On Thursday, Isenhour told the Kansan the conviction was the result of a consensual act between him and a 15-year-old girl who told him she was 18 or 19. At the time, Isenhour was 21.
“When I was younger, I lived in Wisconsin,” Isenhour said. “I worked at a gas station, and there was a girl who came to the gas station every day. I assumed, and she told me, she was 18 or 19.”
One day, Isenhour said, “She invited me to her house while her parents were out of town.”
Isenhour said the girl’s mother found out about the incident and pressed charges; Isenhour didn’t know the girl was underage until he was charged.
Isenhour’s criminal history came to light Wednesday when an Edwardsville resident called the Edwardsville Police Department about Isenhour’s status. The police department then contacted Mayor William “Heinz” Rodgers, who consulted with city attorneys.
“I have confirmed with legal counsel that there are no legal implications or anything to interfere with his ability to hold public office,” Rodgers told the Kansan.
He said the city has no legal basis to ask for Isenhour’s resignation, suspend him or place him on administrative leave.
Rodgers said he did not know about Isenhour’s history until the police department informed him Wednesday evening. Although he said Isenhour was certainly not legally required to resign, he would not say whether he felt Isenhour should resign.
“As the mayor of the city of Edwardsville, I have no comment,” Rodgers said.
But Isenhour did not hold back from commenting during a conversation with the Kansan on Thursday. He said the revelation did not make him want to resign; in fact, he said he has a renewed vigor to hold the office and run for a third term now that the information has been made public.
“The political warfare going on in this small town is ridiculous,” Isenhour said. “The people who brought this up to hurt me are not hurting me, they’re hurting my wife and kids. They’re hurting my 90-year-old grandmother, my 80-year-old mother, my three kids, my wife, my ex-wife; they’re hurting everybody but me.
“They thought they would force me into a position where I’d resign, but that will absolutely not happen. It was a mistake that happened 15 years ago, and I think it’s absolutely pathetic that people don’t have anything better to do with their time.”
But Isenhour may not be out of the woods -- he is only registered as a sex offender in Wisconsin, but Kansas law says he must also register in Kansas and specifically in Wyandotte County. His name could not be found on sex offender databases for either Kansas or Wyandotte County, and on Thursday, Isenhour confirmed that he was not registered in Kansas.
“When I moved back to Kansas, I contacted the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), and they said I didn’t have to register here since I was registered in Wisconsin,” Isenhour said. “But if that’s the case, I absolutely will” register in Kansas, he said.
Eric Wood, a spokesman for the KBI, said Thursday that a sex offender who does not register in Kansas could face a “level 5 personal felony.” He did not specify what the penalty for that could be -- he said it was dependent upon the judge -- but he confirmed that jail time would probably be involved.
An official with the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday also said any sex offender who lives or works in the county is required to register with the department.
Isenhour said his family members were all aware of his criminal past, but he felt it wasn’t necessary to reveal the information to the city council or to voters.
“I absolutely thought there was no reason, because it happened so many years ago,” he said. “It has no bearing on what happens today, and to me it didn’t matter. I’m proud of who I am, I’m proud of who I’ve become, and I’ve had a lot of life lessons. Every life experience I’ve had has helped me become a better person. I just didn’t think it was relevant to how I represent the city of Edwardsville.”
Kansan reporter Sam Hartle contributed to this report.