WASHINGTON — The Air Force has decided to punish a former sexual assault prevention officer accused of groping a woman outside a Washington-area restaurant last year by issuing him a letter of reprimand rather than pursue a court-martial, according to an Air Force document obtained by Stars and Stripes.
The disposition decision by Col. Bill Knight, the commander of the 11th Wing, “was based primarily on the fact that [Lt. Col. Jeffrey] Krusinski had already been acquitted during his civilian trial,” according to the document, which is being reviewed.
A letter of reprimand “is designed to improve, correct and instruct those who depart from standards of performance, conduct, bearing and integrity and whose actions degrade the individual and the unit’s mission,” according to the Air Force.
In keeping with service policy, the letter to be issued to Krusinski will be filed in an unfavorable information file. The officer’s senior rater also would put the letter in Krusinski’s officer selection record, which could affect his ability to rise further through the ranks.
“This means he probably will not [be promoted],” an Air Force official said on condition of anonymity.
In the meantime, Krusinski remains on active duty and is supervising other airmen.
Allowing him to serve in a supervisory role “is being done with great oversight and is a conscious reflection of both his rank and performance since the incident. He has performed well and contributed in a positive manner that is within our expectations and requirements for a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force,” according to the document.
Krusinski will not be discharged, according to the document, and he will remain eligible to apply for retirement benefits after completing 20 years of service. However, he could be forced to retire at a lower grade if service officials decide that the unfavorable information in his personnel records merits such a reduction.
Krusinski was arrested by Arlington County, Va., police in May 2013. He was initially charged with sexual battery in the incident, but Virginia prosecutors revised the charge to regular assault and battery, saying the sexual crime requires additional proof of sexual intent.
During a civilian trial in Arlington Country Circuit Court in November 2013, a 23-year-old woman testified that Krusinski drunkenly groped her outside a bar, then verbally harassed her.
“I feel someone come up behind me — their chest is to my back, and they firmly grab my rear end as they’re walking by, and they ask me if I like it,” said the accuser, who broke down in tears during her testimony.
Another woman testified that she saw Krusinski grope the accuser. She also said he propositioned and groped her as well before she rebuffed him.
A civilian jury reached a verdict of not guilty following two days of testimony.
Forewoman Alison Kutchma said the jury had sympathy for the woman, but felt the evidence did not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Krusinski’s case drew considerable attention because at the time, he was the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response office. The allegations came at a period when U.S. military leaders were under fire from lawmakers, advocacy groups and others for what critics charged were insufficient efforts to prosecute sexual assault cases.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chris Carroll contributed to this report.