Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Chief Arrested for Sexual Battery ahead of Senate Committee Meeting
The officer in charge of the US Air Force sexual assault prevention program has been arrested and charged with sexual battery.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, head of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit, was arrested and charged with sexual battery after allegedly attacking a woman after midnight on Sunday in Arlington, Virginia. According to the local crime report:
On May 5 at 12:35 am, a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
Air Force spokeswoman Natasha Waggoner told reporters that Krusinski was removed from his post, which he has held since February, following his arrest.
“Sexual assault has no place in the United States military,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement Monday. “The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behavior that violates not only the law, but basic principles of respect, honor, and dignity in our society and its military. Secretary Hagel is firmly committed to upholding the highest standards of behavior in America’s armed forces and will take action to see this through.”
Defense Secretary Secretary Chuck Hagel “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” according to the Pentagon statement.
Gen. Mark Welsh, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, said he is seeking jurisdiction to court-martial Krusinski.
Krusinski’s arrest came just two days before the Senate Armed Services Committee convened a hearing on sexual assault at which senators expressed their frustration at the military’s seeming inability to deal with the growing sex assault crisis.
“While under our legal system everyone is innocent until proven guilty, this arrest speaks volumes about the status and effectiveness of (the Defense) department’s efforts to address the plague of sexual assaults in the military,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said of Krusinski’s arrest.
‘Plague’ is no exaggeration. There were 3,374 reported assaults in the military last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, and based on anonymous surveys the Pentagon believes that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted last year. That figure is cited in a newly-released two-volume Pentagon report that claims there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day. (Read Vol. I here, and Vol. II here)
Last year, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, acknowledged that 80 percent of military rapes go unreported and estimated the real number of annual assaults at around 19,000. The new Pentagon report states that the reluctance of sexual assault victims to come forward and report the attacks is based largely on fear of retaliation, which nearly half of all victims reported feeling.
Recruits and trainees are especially vulnerable. Marine Corps recruiters have raped drunken underage girls, telling them they had to have sex if they wanted to become Marines. During the 2003 Air Force Academy scandal, one in eight female recruits were victims of rape or attempted rape; 70 percent reported being sexually harassed. Many were punished for reporting rapes, while perpetrators often got off scot-free.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was outraged at Tuesday’s meeting when Gen. Welsh blamed the growing number of military sex assaults on the “hookup culture” prevalent among young people. Welsh claimed that one in five female recruits report being assaulted prior to joining the military. “They come in from a society where this occurs,” he asserted. Shocked by Welsh’s apparent victim-blaming, Gillibrand slammed the general’s “outrageous testimony.”
“It is clear that the status quo regarding sexual assaults in the military is simply unacceptable,” Gillibrand told the VillageVoice. “We have to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases and take on the culture that perpetuates this kind of behavior.”
To that end, Gillibrand, working with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), plans to introduce a bill that would remove decision-making on military sex assault cases from the chain of command.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Gen. Welsh countered that “commanders need to be a part of the good order and discipline of these units.”
“Well, they’re failing in this regard, sir,” Gillibrand shot back.
“If the man in charge for the Air Force in preventing sexual assault is being alleged to have committed a sexual assault, this weekend, obviously there’s a failing in training and understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive and damaging it is to good order and discipline and how it’s undermining the credibility of the greatest military force in the world,” Gillibrand said, her voice rising. “This is not good enough!”
The Air Force is currently in the midst of its biggest rape scandal in a decade, centering on Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where More than training instructors and drill sergeants have been disciplined and more than 60 alleged victims have reported sexual abuse.
The latest scandal to befall the Air Force came on Tuesday after Wired’s Spencer Ackerman revealed that the USAF sexual assault “prevention and response” brochure tells victims that they should submit to rape.
“It may be advisable to submit [rather] than resist,” the brochure advises. “You have to make this decision based on circumstances. Be especially careful if the attacker has a weapon.”
President Barack Obama weighed in on the epidemic of military rape on Tuesday, saying he has “no tolerance” for such crimes and vowing to crack down on anyone “up and down the food chain” who ignores the problem.
“I expect consequences,” Obama said. “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged, period. It’s not acceptable.”
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