NEW YORK – A U.S. Air Force officer who headed the service’s sex assault prevention office when he was criminally accused of groping a woman was cleared of a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the incident.
A seven-member jury in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday found Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, not guilty following a trial over parts of two days.
“We’re disappointed, but that’s how the jury system works,” Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos said in a brief interview.
Krusinski’s arrest May 5 came two days before a Defense Department report showed a 35 percent increase in cases of unwanted sexual contact in the military, stoking anger in the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration over how the armed forces deal with sexual assault and related issues.
Krusinski was charged after he allegedly approached a woman “and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a county police statement. The incident occurred at 12:35 a.m. and Krusinski was drunk at the time, police said.
A 23-year-old woman testified in the trial that Krusinski grabbed her buttocks in a parking lot outside a bar near the Pentagon and that she responded by punching him, according to The Associated Press.
There were conflicting accounts of which body parts Krusinski touched and how many times the woman struck him and in what manner, the AP reported.
Krusinski had been branch chief for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office since February. He was removed from the post pending an investigation of the parking lot incident, the air force said at the time of his arrest. He had since been free on bail.
Phone and email messages to the air force press office about what action, if any, Krusinski might face within the military justice system weren’t immediately returned. The case is Virginia v. Krusinski, GC13002001-00, in the Arlington County General District Court.