Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who formerly headed the sex assault prevention office in the Air Force, has been indicted on misdemeanor assault and battery charges in Arlington County, Va., for allegedly groping a woman outside a strip club, court officials said Tuesday.
The highly-publicized case against Krusinski, featuring the arrest photo showing his bruised face that police said resulted from the woman hitting him with her cell phone, figured in the current efforts in Congress to take the prosecution of sexual assaults in the military out of the chain of command.
Two days after Krusinski's May 5 arrest by Arlington County police, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was "disgusted" at the rise in sexual assaults in the ranks and incensed by the allegations against Krusinski.
"We're particularly dispappointed because this alleged incident occurred here" near the Pentagon, Hagel said at a May 7 Pentagon briefing.
Also on May 7, President Obama demanded the swift prosecution, conviction and discharge of sexual offenders in the military in remarks that defendants in military sexual assault cases are now using to argue for dismissal on grounds that "unlawful command influence" was exercised.
The Air Force initially requested to have jurisdiction in the case to prosecute Krusinski under military law, but Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos denied the request, saying her office routinely handled cases against servicemembers.
Krusinski was initially charged with sexual battery, but Stamos later reduced the charge to assault and battery.
"After a more in-depth review of the evidence and a review of the statute and what's required and some prevailing case law, the appropriate charge was a different Class 1 misdemeanor called just ‘assault and battery' as opposed to the sexual battery," Stamos told Air Force Times, who first reported the indictment.
If convicted of the one count of misdemeanor assault and battery, Krusinki would face a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. His lawyers have indicated that he will contest the charge at trial, for which no date has yet been set.
According to police accounts, Krusinski was drinking on a Saturday night at a sports bar and strip club, and at about 12:35 a.m. accosted a woman outside in the parking lot.
Krusinski, an officer with 20 years of service, was quickly relieved of his duties as head of the Air Force' Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
Before heading SAPRO, Krusinski was the Force Support Squadron commander at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., and served seven months in Iraq at Joint Base Balad.
When Krusinski was arrested, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted that she would soon be offering legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military.
Gillibrand has since offered a bill that would strip commanders of their current authority to refer sexual assault cases to courts martial and overrule courts martial verdicts, and give that authority to independent military prosecutors from the Judge Advocates General corps.