The U.S. military is facing further scrutiny for its widespread problem with sexual assault, and this time the irony couldn’t be more glaring. Early Sunday morning, the chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch was arrested and charged with sexual battery. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski is accused of assaulting a woman in a parking lot around midnight on Saturday.
According to the police report, “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.” His arrest photo shows scratches on his face and throat where the victim presumably struggled against her assailant.
Krusinski has been removed from his position, pending the results of the military’s investigation.
According to Military Times, Krusinski graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1994 and was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was assigned to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan in 2011. He also led the 6th Force Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. The 41-year-old had reportedly only been on the job, as chief of sexual assault prevention, for two months before the incident in which he was charged with sexual battery occurred.
In response to this most recent military assault case, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday announced a “new series of actions to further DOD’s [Department of Defense’s] sexual assault and prevention efforts,” in addition to the measures he announced last month, which included eliminating the ability of a convening authority to change findings in courts martial, as was done in the Wilkerson case.
“We’re all outraged and disgusted over these very troubling allegations. Sexual assault is a despicable crime and one of the most serious challenges facing this department. It’s a threat to the safety and welfare of our people and the health, reputation, and trust of this institution,” Hagel said.
Hagel’s plan includes “addressing accountability, command climate, and victim advocacy,” and proposes regular, comprehensive, visual inspections of all DOD workplaces to ensure that the facilities “promote an environment of dignity and respect for all members, and are free from materials that create a degrading or offensive work environment.”
Recently, the Air Force came under fire for the sexual assault case of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and then had his sentence overturned by an Air Force General. Before that, the Air Force was dealing with the Lackland Air Base scandal, in which 32 training instructors were accused of having “inappropriate or coercive sexual relationships” with 59 recruits, with charges ranging from assault to adultery and rape.
In March, the Senate Armed Services Committee met to discuss the issue of rampant sexual assault in the military. About 3,000 sexual assault complaints are filed every year throughout the whole of the military, though estimates suggest that the actual number of sexual assaults occurring per year is closer to 19,000. The discrepancy is almost certainly due to the environment that has been created, in which victims fear retribution and offenders are protected.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.