NEWSFLASH: Officer In Charge Of Preventing Sexual Assault Arrested For Sexual Assault

tagsEarly Sunday, an Air Force Officer who was chief of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, was arrested in Arlington, Va., for sexual battery. The crime report states:

05/05/13, 500 block of S. 23rd Street. On May 5 at 12:35 am, 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. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

NBC News reports that Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, has since been removed from his position as chief of the program that’s supposed to protect military women from sexual assault.

Sexual assault in the military, and the process for dealing with it, has been a topic of ever-increasing concern. The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the 2012 fiscal year (up from 19,000 in 2010), with only 3,374 reported. Studies show that one in five women in the military have been sexually assaulted—but only about 14 percent of them report it to military authorities, according to the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Part of the reason many women don’t report their assault is the fear of being punished for saying anything, or the fear of being ignored entirely. As former Marine officer Anu Bhagwati told The Washington Post,

It’s the kind of environment where you’re being yelled at 24-7, where you’re terrified of everybody around you … How are you supposed to ask for help if you’re the victim of sexual assault?

Moreover, senior officers who have no legal training can decide whether court-martial charges can be brought—or whether a case is dismissed entirely. This total authority was demonstrated this year when Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin threw out a sexual assault conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson and reinstated him without explanation. Franklin later issued a letter saying he dismissed the case because he thought Wilkerson, a “doting father and husband,” couldn’t possibly commit the “egregious crime of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been at the center of the debate in the U.S. Senate over reforming the way the military deals with sexual assault, believes decisions on sexual assault cases should be taken outside the chain of command. She told senior attorneys for the Defense Department at a recent Senate hearing:

I don’t know how you can say having 19,000 sexual assault cases a year is discipline and order … It is the exact opposite of discipline and order.

Photo of dog tags courtesy of Flickr user Jon & Brigid under Creative Commons 2.0

Comments

  1. I agree with Sen. Gillibrand that cases of sexual assault against women in the miltary need to be taken to the regular criminal courts, because in the military, men who commit it are dealt with very leniently, if they’re dealt with at all. Additionally, I suspect an underlying reason for both committing sexual assaults and for not dealing with these military perpetrators aggressively; resentment at women being in the military in the first place.

    There are probably quite a few guys who still believe that being in the military should have remained a job strictly for men, with no women allowed. Men who hold such archaic beliefs may never say so publicly, but they have them all the same. This is why these cases need to be addressed outside the miltary; because sexual assault against women is still a crime. Military personnel don’t deserve special treatment when they commit such crimes.

  2. Darthy Johnson says:

    I worked on a contract with the Air Force team at the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinatators to create a Train-the Trainers Sexual assault awareness manual for the Air Force SARCs. The awareness training program is a terrific start but the real problem is the military justice system. While the chain of command process is a necessary in a military environment, this same process prevents a military victim from reporting sexual assaults, especially if the perpetrator is a higher ranking official.
    As a “retired” military officer and a former military investigator responsible for investigating sexual assaults, sexual assaults in the military will continue to increase unless these types of crimes are taken out of the military judicial system–a classic “fox watching the hen house.”

  3. Cheryl Cooney says:

    I realize that sexual assault against female military is a major issue, but what about the service member who rapes his own wife? This is what I had to contend with as a military spouse. He was careful never to leave a mark, but it was rape nonetheless. I asked an MP about it once, and he said, “There is no law in the UCMJ against a service member having sexual relations with his dependent spouse.” I hope this has also changed. I have since divorced him, but still felt no recourse against him.

  4. John Kohler says:

    The Congresswoman in our district is Jackie Speier. She takes the House floor every day to speak on this subject. I am proud of her.

    John Kohler

  5. i’VE APPRECIATED THE COMMENTS, BUT IF WE DON’T GET AT THE REASONS WHY MEN SEXUALLY ASSAULT, IT WILL NOT LIKELY CHANGE, EVEN IF THE CASES ARE REMANDED TO A NON-MILITARY COURT. YES, SOLDIERS ARE VERBALLY ASSAULTED (THREATENED) AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS THEY INTERNALLY DISCONNECT. AFTER AWHILE THEY HAVE DIFFICULTY FEELING ANYTHING AT ALL. THIS STATE OF MIND IS INTOLERABLE TO HUMAN BEINGS SO THEY GO LOOKING FOR AN EMOTIONAL RUSH. AND THEY GET IT WHEN THEY RAPE, KILL. THE MILITARY HAS JUST DEHUMANIZED THEM; TURNED THEM INTO HUMAN DRONES. WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO WE EXPECT?

    • Rebecca says:

      As a proud member of the Air Force, I’d like to inform you that the military doesn’t turn people into criminals. I serve alongside many amazing and honorable men and women. The military doesn’t make anyone a rapist. People who choose to sexually assault others are power hungry and vicious people. Please try not to insult the men and women who live to keep you safe. The military is full of excellent people, but we can’t help it if a few bad eggs make it through the enlistment process. What we can do is punish them properly, and get them out of our ranks. Moving forward.

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