Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, 41, was the chief of the service’s Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office (SARPO) branch. Krusinski allegedly groped a woman in a parking lot early Sunday, he was arrested and held for bond in Arlington County. The Air Force has removed him of his rank and title, but they are going to have to do a little more than that if they want to stop the rampant rape culture that currently plagues its ranks.
Krusinski was at Freddie’s Beach Bar on Sunday. The police report says he left the bar at 12:35 a.m. which is when he apparently approached the female victim in the parking lot and groped her her breasts and buttocks. When he reached for her again, the victim successfully fought him off and alerted police. He was then arrested, charged with sexual battery, and held on $5,000 bail. Krusinski had been head of the SARPO branch for two months prior to this incident. Upon hearing of the arrest, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he was outraged and demanded swift and decisive action. A congressional leader on the issue of sexual assault in the military, Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Tweeted:
There are no words. Air Force Officer in charge of sexual assault prevention arrested for? you guessed it. bit.ly/10COfw2— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) May 6, 2013
If she doesn’t sound surprised by the accusation, she shouldn’t be. As she noted in her article for PolicyMic, she’s met with the victims and she knows all too well how pervasive sexual assault within the military is.
Apart from stripping Lt. Col. Krusinski of his rank and title, the Air Force refused to comment any further. They should have used this moment to call attention to to the problem what exists within their rank and file, instead, they are too worried with producing the wrong kind of sound-bite. It’s one thing to tell congressional leaders that you won’t allow sexual predators and sexual violence within the ranks, it’s quite another to actually act upon that statement. It is just another way they have repeatedly failed the victims of sexual assault and abuse.
All of this comes amid the annual report on sexual assault in the military by the Pentagon, which will be released May 7. A preview of the report shows a starling increase from FY11 to FY12. The number of people who made an anonymous claim that they were sexually assaulted but never reported the attack jumped from 19,000 to 26,000. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Tuesday that the Pentagon report estimates that military personnel are the victims of around 70 sexual assaults per day.
SARPO itself, the branch that Krusinski worked for, is mired with its own set of issues. The office is responsible for oversight of the Department’s sexual assault policy, but it has little overall effectiveness. That's because SARPO has no enforcement mechanism, they are only allowed to make recommendations. As a report by the Government Accountability Office points out, the failure of the military to adequately enact the sexual assault policies set forth prevents the Department of Defense from properly addressing sexual violence.
What all of this shows us, is that it isn’t enough to simply make the policies. What the military has essentially done here is created a shell with no framework. If you don’t have accountability, if you don’t have set guidelines and enforcement mechanisms for how these policies are supposed to be enacted than how, exactly, will they do anything to prevent sexual assault? They won't.