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Va. prosecutors move ahead on case against airman

Wednesday - 5/8/2013, 7:09pm  ET

MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) -- Arlington County prosecutors plan to keep jurisdiction in their sexual battery case against an airman who led the branch's sexual assault response unit, even though the Air Force asked to have the case moved to the military justice system.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, is scheduled for arraignment Thursday in General District Court on a misdemeanor sexual battery charge. He is accused of groping a woman in a parking lot early Sunday in the county's Crystal City section.

Krusinski had been in charge of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program but was removed from the position after the Air Force learned of his arrest.

Krusinski's arrest comes as the military continues to wrestle with how best to handle reports of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct. A new Pentagon report showed sexual assaults in the military are a growing epidemic, and legislation is under consideration in Congress to force the military to deal with the issue more strictly.

Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos said Wednesday her office routinely prosecutes military members and that a state prosecution does not preclude a military court martial.

An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed the Air Force can bring its own case regardless of what Arlington County does, but said the Secretary of the Air Force must approve a dual prosecution and cannot do so until after the Virginia case concludes.

Krusinski's attorney, Sheryl Shane, declined to discuss the case in detail Wednesday. But she said it was unfair for Krusinski alone to bear the scrutiny he has faced in the wake of broader concerns about how the Air Force and the military respond to sexual assaults.

"He is an individual," she said. "I'm not saying he didn't have a position of responsibility, but he can't be responsible for everything everybody's done."

President Barack Obama was asked about Krusinski's case and other Air Force cases where generals set aside convictions in military court. He responded Tuesday that he has "no tolerance" for sexual assaults and has directed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to "step up our game exponentially."

Krusinski had initially requested a court-appointed attorney. In an affidavit, Krusinski told the court that he earns $132,000 annually. Shane was privately retained.


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