Battleland

Planely Not Taking Sexual Assaults Seriously…Enough

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Arlington County Police Dept.

Air Force Lieut. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski

The arrest of Air Force Lieut. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski – chief of the service’s sexual assault and prevention shop — early Sunday morning on charges of sexual assault, practically within the Pentagon’s penumbra, is a tragedy for him, his family and friends. Not to mention the horror he brought to his alleged victim.

But, more importantly, it is an indictment of the Air Force itself.

Yes, he is presumed innocent, after the Arlington County, Va., police department arrested him on charges of “sexual battery.” But his mug shot, here, tells you all you need to know.

“A drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” said the police report into his arrest, which happened in the Crystal City neighborhood not far from the Pentagon. “The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police,” who arrived a short time later and arrested Krusinski. The two did not know one another, police said.

Any manager picking someone for such a sensitive slot knows – assuming he or she cares to know – if a given candidate is right for the job.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to soon-to-depart Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, expressing “outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said late Monday night. “This matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” Little added.

The Air Force has been plagued in recent years with trainers at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas preying on recruits, and senior commanders unilaterally tossing out sexual-assault convictions by courts-martial.

Combating sexual assault inside the Air Force has become a critical mission. The service says its “Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program reinforces the Air Force’s commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through awareness and prevention training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability.” It adds that “sexual assault is criminal conduct. It falls well short of the standards America expects of its men and women in uniform.”

The service picked Krusinski, 41 and an Air Force Academy graduate, presumably as its best and brightest to combat the scourge of sexual assault…and, two months later, he is charged with the very crime he has been tapped to eradicate? The Air Force removed him from that assignment once it learned of his arrest.

His alleged fall from grace speaks volumes about the level of scrutiny the Air Force gives those it taps for such billets.

It leaves normal folks with a simple question for the Air Force: do you select officers to wage war with the same level of care that you select officers to fight sexual assault?

Unfortunately, the service loses, no matter how it answers that question.