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Sexual assault in military: Pentagon report, scandal deal a double blow (+video)

Even as the Pentagon prepared to report a dramatic increase in sexual assaults in the military, the officer in charge of the Air Force prevention program was alleged to have groped a woman.

By Anna MulrineStaff writer / May 7, 2013

Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, the officer in charge of the U.S. Air Force effort to curb sexual assault in the military, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly grabbing a woman by the breasts and buttocks in a parking lot not far from the Pentagon, officials said on Monday. The woman allegedly was forced to fight off Krusinski with scratches to his face.

Courtesty of the Arlington County Police Department / Reuters

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Washington

News that the Pentagon was facing yet another sexual assault scandal broke, almost incredibly, on the eve of the release of a Defense Department-wide report Tuesday showing that instances of the crime in the US military had jumped from 19,000 in 2010 to 26,000 in 2012.

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The breaking scandal, and the growing instances of sexual  assault throughout the military, delivered a double blow to senior Pentagon officials who promised to address the problem in recent appearances on Capitol Hill.

In response, a military women’s advocate called the system for prosecuting the crimes “broken,” and lawmakers promptly denounced the increased number of assaults as “horrifying,” vowing to introduce legislation that will “fundamentally” change the way the military investigates and prosecutes the crime.

The latest scandal involved the Air Force official in charge of the service’s sexual assault prevention program, Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who was arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot. The woman allegedly was forced to fight off Krusinski with scratches to his face, which were visible on his mug shot.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a statement Tuesday saying he had spoken with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley to express “outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations.”

The Pentagon will soon announce the “next steps in our ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In the meantime, Lt. Col. Krusinski “has been removed from his position as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch chief pending the outcome of the current investigation,” says Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian.

Krusinski had served in that position since February.

“The alleged recent sexual misconduct of an Air Force official in charge of the Air Force’s own sexual assault prevention and response office serves to undermine” DOD efforts in this arena, said Rep. Niki Tsongas (D) of Massachusetts in a statement released Tuesday.

What’s more, the latest DOD report “indicates a staggering amount of instances of perceived retaliation against victims of sexual assault, which confirms the alarming and persistent anecdotal evidence we have heard,” she added.

Victims’ advocacy organizations weighed in as well.

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