Military Sex Crimes Investigator Arrested|as Congress Cracks Down

     (CN) – The sexual battery arrest of the U.S. airman who heads the Sex Assault Prevention and Response Unit shook up the coincidentally timed hearing Tuesday of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
     Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, is alleged to have drunkenly groped the breasts and buttocks of a woman he did not know in an Arlington parking lot at 12:35 a.m. on Sunday.
     “The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police,” the police report states.
     Krusinski was arrested and charged with sexual battery and released on a $5,000 bond, the Associated Press reported.
     Prior to his arrest, Krusinski had been responsible for the sexual assault and prevention efforts of the U.S. Air Force.
     The U.S. Department of Defense said it removed from Krusinski from that duty, “pending the outcome of an investigation.”
     Secretary Chuck Hagel “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” according to the department’s statement.
     Gen. Mark Welsh, the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, indicated that he is seeking jurisdiction for a court-martial after Krusinski is presented at Arlington County Court on Thursday, an Air Force spokesman said.
     “Sexual assault has no place in the United States military,” spokesman George Little said in a statement. “The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behavior that violates not only the law, but basic principles of respect, honor, and dignity in our society and its military.”
     In a Tuesday meeting of Senate Committee on Armed Service, broadcast on C-SPAN, lawmakers heard how sexual assault has become a far too common facet of military service.
     Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., kicked off the hearing with statistics that there are more than 70 sexual assaults on average against military personnel every day, Wired journalist Spencer Ackerman reported on Twitter.
     Later in the hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., proposed reforming the Uniform Code of Military Justice to limit the exonerating power of the convening authority, which appoints officers for a court-martial.
     The controversial power to change overturn or overturn a sentence came to light just this past March, with the reversed sexual assault conviction of an airman, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson.
     Sen. McCaskill said that a victim statement is not currently part of a clemency proceeding, but officers are free to submit letters about the virtues of the accused perpetrators.
     Later in the hearing, Sen. Kristen Gillebrand, D-N.Y., passionately urged Gen. Welsh to place military sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.
     Welsh said: “Commanders need to be a part of the good order and discipline of these units.”
     Gillebrand countered: “Well, they’re failing in this regard, sir.”
     That failure “is undermining the credibility of the greatest military force in the world,” she added. “This is not good enough!”
     Welsh insisted that convening authorities rarely overturn verdicts or fail to investigate sexual assault cases, but Gillebrand said the committee hears of many cases in which women do not report assaults for fear of retaliation from the chain of command.
     “Could you surmise that it may well be that the victim has no faith in the chain of command on this issue?” she asked.
     A mammoth report released by the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, or SAPR, that afternoon backed up Sen. Gillibrand’s argument.
     The SAPR program had its beginning in 2004 when then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed Dr. David S.C. Chu, former under secretary of defense for personnel readiness, to review the military’s treatment of sexual assault cases.
     “Of those women who experienced [unwanted sexual contact] and did not report it, 47 percent indicated fear of retaliation or reprisal as the reason for not reporting, and 43 percent had heard about the negative experiences of other victims who reported their situation,” according to the twovolume report, which clocks in at roughly 1,500 pages.
     Though the survey found an estimated 26,000 victims, it said only 2,558 unrestricted reports of sexual assault were filed, meaning they were not filed confidentially.
     Of these reports, only 1,627 investigations were completed, disciplinary action started against 880, and 594 advanced to court-martial, the Defense Department said.
     The report found that 6.1 percent of all female service members, and 1.2 percent of enlisted men, experienced unwanted sexual contact. More than half of these men and women reported that the alleged attacker was a military co-worker, or more than one.
     In roughly a quarter of all cases, the alleged perpetrator was in the chain of command, according to the report.
     The new protocol for reporting sexual assaults makes no attempt to remove the process from the chain of command.
     “When an allegation of sexual assault is reported, the commander must now provide an in-person assessment to the first Flag officer in his or her chain of command,” the report states. “This requirements ensures that senior leadership is aware of every sexual assault allegation and is in a position to engaged as well as to conduct a meaningful discussion concerning command climate and the impact of sexual assault upon the command.”
     The numbers reported by SAPR are conservative compared to those found by the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), headquartered at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
     Lifetime prevalence of sexual assault for civilian women is about 17 percent, the CDP found.
     Prevalence for military women, however, is estimated to be between 23 and 33 percent, the CDP said. Of this group, 46 percent suffer symptoms consistent with post traumatic stress disorder. In addition, rates of re-victimization are higher for women in the military.

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