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Ex-SAPRO chief indicted on assault and battery charge

Aug. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The former head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention efforts has been indicted after he allegedly groped a woman in Arlington, Va., said Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos.

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski faces one count of assault and battery after a grand jury returned the indictment Monday, Stamos said. The charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

A copy of the indictment was not immediately available Tuesday.

On May 5, Krusinski allegedly grabbed the breasts and buttocks of a woman while drunk, according to arrest information. The woman was able to fight him off and called police. He was originally charged with sexual battery, but Stamos later withdrew the charge. The charge Krusinski now faces carries the same maximum penalty as the charge that was dropped.

“After a more in-depth review of the evidence and a review of the statute and what’s required and some prevailing case law, the appropriate charge was a different Class 1 misdemeanor called just ‘assault and battery’ as opposed to the sexual battery,” Stamos said.

Krusinski is slated to appear in court on Thursday, but his attorney has indicated that he won’t be able to make it, so prosecutors are working on another day for him to appear so a trial date can be set, Stamos said.

At the time of his arrest, Krusinski had been head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office for two months. He was removed from the job immediately afterward.

News of his arrest enraged lawmakers, who were already angry that an Air Force lieutenant general overturned the sexual assault conviction of a lieutenant colonel stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The anger was palpable when Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 7.

“Clearly, there is insufficient training, insufficient understanding, if the man in charge for the Air Force of preventing sexual assaults is being alleged of committing sexual assault this weekend — obviously, there is a failing in training and understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive and damaging it is to good order and discipline,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

In response to the scandal, the Air Force placed Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward in charge of sexual assault prevention efforts and increased the office’s staff from two to 31. Woodward told Air Force Times that being a woman did not make her specially suited to fight sexual assaults.

“I don’t see this as a gender issue; I think that’s really important, and we have victims of both genders, and I hope to be the voice for all of those victims,” she said in an interview.

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