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Military sexual assault epidemic exposed

Congresswoman Jackie Speier joins PoliticsNation to discuss the new report that estimates a 35% increase in military sexual assaults since 2010.

Head of Air Force sexual assault prevention charged with sexual battery

Updated

An Air Force officer tasked with sexual assault prevention has been arrested and charged with sexual battery for allegedly attacking a woman in a suburban Virginia parking lot Sunday morning.

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who leads the Air Force’s branch of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, was removed from his job Monday afternoon pending the outcome of an investigation.

According to the Arlington County Police Report, early Sunday morning, “a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police.”

Krusinski was arrested and charged with sexual battery after the assault.

Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh said Tuesday that the charges against Krusinski were “deeply troubling,” and that he was “appalled” at the allegations. Welsh added that the Air Force has asked for jurisdiction in the case.

Although it is believed to be under-reported, the Defense Department estimates approximately 19,000 cases of sexual abuse occur in the military each year. Krusinski’s arrest underscores how ineffective the military has been in addressing sexual assaults, said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, of Michigan, Tuesday.

“We’re presented this morning with dramatic evidence of the need for the Department of Defense to act swiftly and decisively to address the plague of sexual assaults in the military,” said Levin, who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Levin said that a new Pentagon report “estimates that, on the average, there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day.”

The Air Force has been rocked by a series of sexual misconduct controversies, including a string of assaults at Lackland Air Force Base and a general’s decision there to overturn Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson’s rape conviction based solely on his “convening authority.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel responded to the Wilkerson controversy by directing the Pentagon to strip commanding generals of their ability to void military court convictions. New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also became a vocal advocate for the military’s assault victims, introducing legislation aimed to help them get justice.

Virginia Messick, one of dozens victims in the Lackland sexual assault scandal, joined PoliticsNation to share her experience in March. “It’s my turn for him to be scared of me,” she said of her testimony against her attacker. “I went ahead and did what I needed to do.”

Head of Air Force sexual assault prevention charged with sexual battery

Updated