The former head of the U.S. Air Force’s sexual assault prevention branch was acquitted Wednesday of assaulting a young woman outside a Virginia bar.
A 23-year-old American University graduate alleged that Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski groped her buttocks and “asked [her] if [she] liked it.” She then caught up with Krusinski, confronted him, and punched him in the face. Attorney Cari Steele told the jury that the woman “felt totally violated.”
Krusinski’s attorney hinted that Krusinski might have grazed the woman by accident on the sidewalk, despite testimony from a server at the bar that Krusinski also groped her and one of her co-workers before she witnessed him groping the young woman.
“He was just a drunken mess,” she said.
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Krusinski was going to be charged with sexual battery, but the prosecution dropped that and opted for a regular assault charge.
The May 7 arrest of Krusinski intensified a national debate over rampant sexual assault in the military, and whether the chain of command should be involved in prosecuting such cases. Fifty percent of female victims said they did not report their attack because they believed nothing would be done about it, and about a quarter of male and female victims surveyed were assaulted by someone in their chain of command.
An Air Force spokeswoman said that Krusinski was assigned to another job after his arrest.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing for legislation that would remove prosecution of serious non-military crimes from the chain of command, which U.S. allies like Great Britain and Israel have already done effectively.