WASHINGTON – A US Air Force officer in charge of preventing sexual attacks has been arrested for assaulting a woman, police said, in the latest setback for a force struggling to stem a pervasive rape problem.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski, head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response program, was drunk when he “approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a police report from Arlington, Virginia, just outside the US capital.
“The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police,” police said.
Little confirmed Krusinski was head of the service’s prevention program and said he has been removed from his post pending the outcome of an investigation.
“The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behavior,” he said, adding that Hagel would soon announce new steps in “ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime.”
The Air Force has come under severe criticism after a general recently tossed out a sexual conviction from a court martial against a fighter pilot, Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson.
And the Air Force has been reeling from a scandal at its main training center in Lackland, Texas, where more than a dozen training instructors have been accused of misconduct with recruits, including sexual assault.
Lawmakers have slammed the Air Force and the broader military over sexual assault cases, saying the Pentagon has failed to come to grips with the problem.