The airman tasked with overseeing the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program has been accused of groping a woman in Arlington, Va. over the weekend.
Arlington police have charged Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski with sexual battery after a woman reported he grabbed her breasts and buttocks in a parking lot in the early morning hours of Sunday, May 5, before fighting him off.
Stars and Stripes reported Monday that Krusinski had been removed from his position as head of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch. He will be arraigned on Thursday, where an Arlington judge will determine under whose jurisdiction he will be tried. The Air Force has requested jurisdiction over the case.
"It is unacceptable that this takes place at any time in our Air Force," said Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, in a Senate hearing Tuesday morning with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. He added he and Donley were "appalled" by what he described as "deeply troubling" news.
Welsh said the Air Force's requesting jurisdiction over the case is "standard practice." Krusinski has dedicated his career to Air Force personnel services, Welsh said, adding a cursory look at his professional record yields no clues to his alleged conduct.
"He's been around the business for his entire career," Welsh said in response to questioning from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "His record is very good."
Krusinski was a personnel officer by training, and spent the last two years in an Air Force personnel policy office, Welsh added. He reviewed Krusinski's officer record and performance reports Monday night and spoke with his current supervisor.
"There is no indication in his professional record of performance or in his current workplace that there is any problem like this," Welsh said.
The incident yielded a strong response from the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Monday night, who has spent much of his two months at the Pentagon advocating for sexual assault prevention.
"Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively," said Pentagon spokesman George Little in a Monday statement.
Hagel spoke with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley – set to retire in June – about the alleged assault and the removal of Krusinski from his position pending further investigation.
"Secretary Hagel has been directing the Department's leaders to elevate their focus on sexual assault prevention and response, and he will soon announce [the] next steps in our ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime," Little said. "Sexual assault has no place in the United States military. 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."
Military-wide sexual assault, but particularly in the Air Force has made headlines in recent weeks, following reports that Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin had overturned a guilty verdict against F-16 fighter pilot Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. He was accused of sexually assaulting Kimberly Hanks, 49, in his home.
This incident gained further attention following a March 5 Senate Hearing in which Sen. McCaskill asked then-CentCom Commander Marine Gen. James Mattis about Franklin's decision.
Mattis said he did not know the specifics of the incident, but asked the senators to look beyond that one case.
"You show us someone who conducts them self in a criminal manner along these lines, and I am dry-eyed when I put my beloved troops in jail [for]the rest of their life for all I care," he said.
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Updated 5/1/2013: This story was updated to include testimony by the Air Force chief of staff.