The Buzz

Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Chief Charged in Sexual Assault

Arlington, VA, County Police Department In the saddest twist yet to the military's mushrooming rape epidemic, the chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch of the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Col Jeffrey Krusinski, was arrested and charged with sexual assault this past weekend.

The Arlington, Virginia, crime report reads: "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."

In his booking photo, Krusinski seems to have sustained obvious scratching injuries to the face and neck as a result of the alleged assault.

Krusinski's arrest appears to be the ultimate signal that the military's recent attempts to provide sexual-assault oversight from within are insufficient. His apprehension comes at a moment when the Pentagon is being examined intensely for not doing enough to prevent rape in the forces, and even when officials are alerted to inappropriate conduct, abusers are rarely punished. Recently, military newspaper Stars and Stripes detailed particular criticism the Air Force has faced over another assault, scrutiny that will no doubt intensify after Krusinski's attack: 

The Air Force recently came under fire for a decision by a lieutenant general to throw out the sexual assault conviction of fighter pilot Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. Wilkerson, 44, the former inspector general for the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base in Italy, was convicted last year of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail, forfeiture of pay and dismissal from the Air Force. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin overturned the sentence and reinstated Wilkerson into the Air Force.

Yet the Air Force is not alone in its shame. Just this March Navy vet. Brian Lewis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on his rape by a higher ranking petty officer. Like many other service members who report rape or assault, Lewis was diagnosed with a "preexisting personality disorder" and washed out of the military. Lewis told the committee, “I carry my discharge as an official and permanent symbol of shame, on top of the trauma of the physical attack, the retaliation and its aftermath.” (The video of Lewis' testimony is affecting.)

It's clear that a civilian oversight agency within the DoD for sexual assault cases is necessary in order to break the cycle of dismissal accompanying these abuses. Krusinski's alleged assault indicates corruption at the highest level—a finding that should unsettle many, as service members continue to be silenced and shamed for being raped.