Today Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, formerly chief of the Air Force SAPR (“sexual assault prevention and response”) program, was acquitted by a Virginia jury of assaulting a woman during an encounter outside of a Crystal City bar earlier this year. From this Washington Post story:

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, was head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention branch when he was arrested after the May encounter outside a Crystal City bar. The incident was swept up in an ongoing debate over whether the military is equipped to handle sexual assaults among its ranks.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their final pitches to jurors about 3:30 pm. Arlington County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cari Steele asked them to focus on Krusinski’s grabbing of the woman’s buttocks when she clearly “didn’t like it” and ignore what she termed “distractions” posed by his defense attorneys.

“She felt totally violated,” Steele said. “That’s what this case is about.”

Barry Coburn, Krusinski’s attorney, highlighted what he called inconsistencies in the woman’s account of a fracas after the alleged grab, and said those were enough to give jurors reasonable doubt. He hinted that Krusinski might have grazed the woman by accident on a narrow sidewalk.

24 Responses to “Lieutenant Colonel Krusinski acquitted”

  1. Sea Lawyer says:

    Acquitted you say?  There must be something wrong, institutionally, for that to have happened.  Perhaps Congress should hold hearings and consider revamping the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legal system.  Oh wait, it can’t.  It can, however, seek to entirely re-tool the UCMJ.  Thank goodness.

  2. Brian Bouffard says:

    Clearly, we have to get commanders out of the civilian justice system.

  3. Lieber says:

    Well, it was an Arlington jury….so pretty much a military panel. :)
    With that said, from what I know about the case it’s pretty much the jury apparently deciding that he had been punished enough (the woman followed him after he stumbled away and punched him pretty good….plus the career end, national ignominy etc.)  on the other hand he also grabbed a waitress’ rear earlier in the evening.  I can’t feel sorry for him.

  4. some TC says:

    What, no scathing commentary from Petula Dvorak on the failures of the Commonwealth’s justice system? One thing I can be pretty sure of–if the Commonwealth’s Attorney hadn’t fought the AF to keep the case, this probably would have resulted in something other than an acquital. Be careful what you wish for.

  5. dyskolos says:

    Amen, Sea Lawyer, amen!
    But will this give the complainers and would be tinkerers of the military justice system second thoughts? I seriously doubt it.

  6. Anonymous Air Force Senior Defense Counsel says:

    Doesn’t the victim get an appeal?

  7. Ama Goste says:

    Lieber, I doubt very seriously that many active-duty military members claim Virginia residency, even if they live in Arlington, so I don’t think they’d be a majority of the jury pool in that county.  Now, retirees are another story, but, again, I’d say you’re far more likely to find the retirees living in Woodbridge, Fairfax, Manassas, and Southern Maryland, than in Arlington.

  8. k fischer says:

    I agree with Lieber.  It sounds like a jury nullification based on the a$$ whipping he suffered by cell phone.  Victim sounds like she may have oversold the effects that the assault had on her, and the jury didn’t like her; unanimously, might I add.  
     
    I got $50 that says he faces a GCM for the three sexual assaults he allegedly committed that evening, he gets convicted, and is given a dismissal with no jail time.  
     
    So, anybody ever been to Freddie’s Beach Bar?  Perhaps, the female vic is so upset because he thought she was a man dressed in drag.  Google “Jordain Coleman.”  Cue the Kinks and cry when you peel back the layers of the onion.  

  9. k fischer says:

    Did this happen on a Monday night because Monday is singles night.  Perhaps, this explains why the AF felt it safe to assign him to the SAPR program.
     
    Oh, look!  Freddie’s has a kid’s menu.  And, I think I just saw the 4th horseman breach the horizon……….

  10. soonergrunt says:

    @k fischer, 201311140945hrs:
    Who is the GCMCA, and does that officer want another star?

  11. Lieber says:

    Ama,
    what I meant is that Arlington residents either work for the DoD or are contractors….

  12. k fischer says:

    I think those in Congress who support the integration of the LGBT community into the military wouldn’t want this case to go to trial.  Single male officer hanging out at a drag bar playing grab butt and inviting home transgendered persons……..perhaps, the GCMCA would consider his or her star safe not referring this hot mess of a case……..
     
    (Well I’m not dumb, but I can’t understand why she look like a woman, but hit like a man.  Oh, Krusinski.  Kru-Kru-Kru-Kruskinski…..)

  13. Just watching the fray... says:

    K fischer –great Kinks reference!  Rofl. Funniest thing I’ve read on theses pages in a looong time! Now if you can only work in a little Lou Reed…

  14. Neutron73 says:

    Too bad for him.  He gets an acquittal just so that the miljus system will plonk him with a GCM later.  And quickly shuffled out the door because those within the military community who quickly offered him up as an example of “we take these things seriously” are likely in higher pay-grades and don’t want to be embarrassed by the fact they blew this one.
    Good luck with life after your dismissal from Air Force, LtCol Krusinski.
    Surprised this blog didn’t have anything on the Weirick fitrep story.

  15. Capt N.S. Stewart, USMC says:

    Wait. This whole deal went down at Freddie’s? I can’t speak to Monday night singles night, but as someone with an unblemished record of heterosexuality, I can tell you that their Thursday night karaoke is on point…or so I’ve heard.

  16. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    Sheesh.  It’s a good thing I didn’t open that Singles Night ad on my DoD computer.

  17. k fischer says:

    RIL, 
     
    What?  Johnson, #13 (I wonder what that is referring to), is clearly wearing a jock strap.  That makes it work safe with the DoD, doesn’t it?

  18. Some Army Guy says:

    Not only does the Commonwealth need to get commanders out of the criminal justice system, they need to assign state-appointed counsel to the victim!

  19. nw says:

    I’m pretty sure the USAF SVC program, on behalf of the victim (who is not entitled to legal assistance under 10 USC 1044), will petition the Air Force Court  for extraordinary relief in the form of a writ of strenuous objection and request that the Air Force Court vacate the Commonwealth jury’s verdict and order Krusinski’s confinement until his general court-martial is convened.  If the writ is denied, USAF TJAG will certify the case for review to CAAF.  If CAAF denies review, Sens McCaskill and Gillibrand will file a cert petition with the Supremes.  Don’t worry, folks, the victim will get the justice she deserves.

  20. AFSVC says:

     @nw…you’re off base. I personally cheered the acquittal, not because it was justice (I don’t know enough about the facts of this case so I just don’t know), but because it demonstrated in some small way what many of us (actors in the MJ process) are saying: we in DoD do this as well or better than the civilians. These cases are just difficult to prove BRD. We all wear the same uniform as the TCs, TDCs, ACCs, and many of the victims (sorry…complaining witnesses); it frustrates us all how DoD is portrayed and the negative effects that’s having on everyone in the process.
     As to the larger anti-SVC slant, understanding the general leanings of this blog, I get it and so I normally let it go because I value the information and ideas expressed here. However,  I’d ask many of the DCs to consider some things: as you’re screaming about the UCI-like impact of Congress on CA’s and legal offices sending everything forward to please the implicit goal of “zero tolerance,” there is an actor in the process who has unfettered access to the one person who really can shut it down. As all of us know, many of these cases are weak on evidence. You say that means my client is a liar; I say its typical of the facts in these type of cases and doesn’t mean what she says happened didn’t. It will often mean that the govt won’t get BRD though and that the best thing for my client is to request an expedited transfer and try to move on because being dragged through the grueling MJ process is not in her best interests. The govt is not having these discussions with victims much anymore, even in extremely weak cases.
     In one case I fought tooth and nail to get a case shut down because my sympathetic client was horrified at the prospect of testifying or even having her name publicly discussed; the government was very frustrated because the accused had confessed when interviewed following the 3rd party report of the assault: their initial solution was to order my client to testify. That would have easily gotten them over 304(g) and to a conviction even if my client was further traumatized. DC, who honestly informed his client that he was going to be a registered SO if the case saw a courtroom, and I were thus aligned in interest. A Chapt 4 resulted and everyone ended happy considering the circumstances.
    I’ve had a number of clients who, given the opportunity to freely express their concerns with someone they can trust, vice a TC who has to lead with “I’m not your lawyer,” decide they don’t want to go through with a process they often didn’t want to be involved with from the beginning (but became embroiled in because of mandatory referral to OSI and mandatory investigation).
    I don’t write this to suggest the SVC program benefits accused, that is certainly not our mandate. I have clients who want to proceed to trial and see their assailants convicted and in those cases I do everything I ethically can to see that happens. The areas where we’re focused, largely 412 and 513, are not anything new that we created and neither are the arguments we are making against discovery and/or admission (to the extent the govt was doing its job). Complain about the admittedly curious procedural history of LRM if you want, but the underlying holding, that the right to be heard as a limited participant on issues specifically spelled out in the MREs encompasses the ability to be heard through counsel, is only logical. Bottom Line: it’s not likely to go anywhere soon.

  21. Vic Ferrari says:

    I am shocked – Shocked! – to see an SVC write in a manifesto on the merits of the program.  So you see, folks, we’ve got it all wrong.  The SVC program is great.  It’s going to help keep bad cases from going to trial. 
    ****Break****
    Now if you’ll look over here, I’ve got a large bridge connecting Manhattan with Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you.

  22. nw says:

    @AFSVC, lighten up my friend.  We’re all just having a little fun with the cognitive dissonance on sexual assault in the military justice system.  On a more serious note, using a verdict to advance an agenda is not doing justice.  The only reason to cheer a particular verdict – conviction or acquittal – is because you think the verdict did justice. 

  23. Johnny Ringo says:

    I have to admit, although I am still skeptical on some aspects of the SVC program, I’ve had a couple of recent experiences similar to what AFSVC describes above: a victim in a very weak case which presents no reasonable likelihood for conviction at trial has that explained to her by her detailed SVC and understands why the decision was made to not send a case to C-M or even to proceed to an Art 32.  The victim is thus spared cross-examination, the accused is spared being dragged through the mud during even the preliminaries of a case that should never see the inside of a courtroom, and my trial counsel are (hopefully) spared a later accusation that they were the sole voice talking the victim out of “seeking justice.”  I’m not saying it works that way every time, but a good SVC can be a trusted voice to help explain reality to folks who are otherwise only exposed to a bunch of political BS about how the system is designed to protect rapists.
     
    NW – you’re a better person than me (or we’re in different lines of work) if you didn’t feel a twinge of schadenfreude upon hearing about Lt Col Krusinski’s aquittal in the infallible civilian courts!

  24. nw says:

    @ JR – I don’t know enough to have an opinion on the Krusinski verdict.  And if I did, I don’t think I’d revel in it, either, because the military justice system with all its supposed failings isn’t being compared to the civilian justice system and all its glories – it’s being held up to a mythical justice system that simply doesn’t exist.  For all of us cogs in the military justice system – military or civilian – I think we can all agree that this debate is desperately lacking in context and all we can do is hope for the best with whatever legislation comes along.  And I hope the SVC program does end up being a net positive because it’s here to stay, too.