Prosecutor Won't Pass Sexual Assault Case to AF
A Northern Virginia prosecutor declined the Air Force’s request to receive jurisdiction for the case against the former Air Force branch chief of the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office who was arrested and charged with sexual battery Sunday.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski was charged with drunkenly groping a woman’s breasts and buttocks at 12:30 a.m. before she fought him off. Krusinski was arrested outside a bar that sits near the Crystal City Gentleman’s Club and Restaurant about a mile from the Pentagon.
Air Force officials immediately removed him from his sexual assault prevention leadership position, but not before it caught the ire of Congress and the public. Congressmen repeatedly grilled Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley in multiple hearings this week using it as a symbol to how large a problem sexual assault has become in the Air Force.
Welsh told lawmakers Tuesday that the service would request jurisdiction in the case. The Air Force’s top officer was later asked in the Tuesday hearing if the Air Force could properly prosecute the officer.
Two Air Force generals have overturned sexual assault convictions over the past 18 months leading the Pentagon to review whether commanders should maintain the convening authority under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos is in charge of prosecuting the case against Krusinski. After she discussed the request for jurisdiction with an Air Force official on Wednesday, Stamos said she saw no reason to hand the case over to the Air Force.
“It occurred on an Arlington County street. Arlington police made the arrest. He was in a civilian capacity at the time. There just didn’t seem like there was any reason to not go forward,” Stamos said in a phone interview Wednesday evening.
Stamos said she took notice to the controversy surrounding the Air Force and sexual assault.
“The timing was quite remarkable,” Stamos said referring to the release of the Pentagon report that outlined the growing problem of sexual assault in the military.
However, She said any concerns with the Air Force’s ability to prosecute a sexual assault case did not play a role in her decision.
“I’m aware of the phenomenon, but it didn’t have any impact in what we are doing,” Stamos said.
Although Welsh said in the Tuesday hearing that it is standard practice to request jurisdiction in a case like this, Stamos said she was surprised by the request.
Krusinski was released on $5,000 bail Sunday. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Krusinski faces a possible year in jail and a fine.
|News Crime in the Military|