A U.S. Air Force officer who headed the service’s sex assault prevention office when he was charged with groping a woman was cleared of a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the incident.
A seven-member Arlington County, Virginia, jury yesterday found Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, not guilty following a trial that stretched over two days.
Krusinski’s arrest May 5 came two days before a Defense Department report showed a 35 percent increase in cases of unwanted sexual contact in the military, stoking anger in Congress and the Obama administration over how the armed forces deal with sexual assault and related issues.
Krusinski’s attorney, Barry Coburn, praised the verdict, saying the jury was “extremely diligent.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said he was disappointed in the panel’s decision. Krusinski, however, may yet face military proceedings in the matter.
“Now that the civilian trial is complete, we will separately assess the facts and evidence in the case and determine if there are applicable disciplinary or administrative actions that are appropriate,” Lieutenant Colonel Laurel Tingley, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in a statement today.
Krusinski was charged after he allegedly approached a woman “and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a county police statement. The incident occurred at 12:35 a.m. and Krusinski was drunk at the time, police said.
A 23-year-old woman testified in the trial that Krusinski grabbed her buttocks in a parking lot outside a bar near the Pentagon and that she responded by punching him, according to the Associated Press.
There were conflicting accounts of which body parts Krusinski touched and how many times the woman hit him and in what manner, the wire service reported.
“Certainly there was complexity here,” Coburn said.
Krusinski had been branch chief for the sexual-assault prevention and response office since February. He was removed from the job pending an investigation of the parking-lot incident, the Air Force said at the time of his arrest. He has been free on bail since.
The case is Virginia v. Krusinski, GC13002001-00, Arlington County General District Court (Arlington, Virginia).
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