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Accused USAF officer will face civilian court

 

The case of a U.S. Air Force official who headed a sexual-assault prevention unit and was arrested for allegedly groping a woman will be handled in civilian court despite the military's request for jurisdiction, a prosecutor said on Tuesday. 

Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, was arrested on Sunday and charged with sexual battery for allegedly grabbing a woman by the breasts and buttocks in a parking lot not far from the Pentagon. The police report said the victim fought off a drunken male as he tried to touch her again. 

Arlington County PD

Booking photo of Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski

Theo Stamos, prosecutor for Arlington County, Virginia, said the military had requested jurisdiction of the case, but the county intended to keep it.

"Since this happened in a civilian setting, not military, it didn't make any sense to me that the military would prosecute this," she said in a phone interview. "We are perfectly capable of going forward."

Krusinski will be arraigned on Thursday, when he can enter a plea on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery, which carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

It could not be determined whether Krusinski has obtained a lawyer, and Krusinski could not be reached for comment.

The arrest came as the U.S. military is under increased pressure to deal with the issue of sexual assault. 

A new Pentagon report released on Tuesday said the reported cases of sexual assault rose to 3,374 in 2012 from 3,192 the previous year, but the Pentagon estimates that actual cases are considerably higher. Estimated cases of unwanted sexual contact in 2012 were 26,000, compared with 19,000 in 2011. 

Krusinski, as chief of the Air Force sexual assault prevention and response branch, headed an office of about five people that oversaw education programs and training and helped draft policy, Lieutenant Colonel Laurel Tingley, an Air Force spokeswoman, said.