|Sex Assault Prevention Officer Arrested|
|By LUIS MARTINEZ (@LMartinezABC)||May 6, 2013, 5:08 PM|
A lieutenant colonel who ran the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was arrested and charged with sexual battery over the weekend in a D.C. suburb.
In a statement Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was said to have expressed "outrage and disgust" over the arrest, which comes as the Pentagon prepares to release a report Tuesday showing the number of sexual assaults in the military increased in 2012.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed to ABC News that Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, was arrested this weekend in Arlington, Va.
The Arlington County Police Department's crime report said that shortly after midnight on Sunday "a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks."
"The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police," the crime report said said. "Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with sexual battery."
ARLnow.com first reported the arrest.
Stefanek said Krusinski was in charge of the Air Force's five-person sexual assault prevention branch. Brig. Gen. Eden Murrie, the Air Force's director of services, oversees the office.
"[Krusinski] was responsible for writing plans and programs that supported victims of sexual assault," Stefanek said in a statement to ABC News. "He worked on prevention programs for sexual assault."
Stefanek said the case was currently under investigation by local authorities and that Krusinski had been removed from his position immediately upon authorities learning of the alleged attack Monday.
Protect Our Defenders, one of the leading groups for military victims of sexual assault, said the incident was an example of "long standing and pervasive" problems in the military.
"If these allegations are true, this is one more example on a long list of how fundamentally broken the military justice system and culture are. The idea that the head of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) could be arrested for sexual assault indicates the depth of the problem. It's outrageous," the group said in a statement.
Late Monday, a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Hagel had spoken with Air Force Secretary Mike Donley about Kurskinski's arrest.
"Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively," Little said.
Saying "sexual assault has no place in the United States military," he added that Hagel "will soon announce next steps in our ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime.
"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," he said. "Secretary Hagel is firmly committed to upholding the highest standards of behavior in America's armed forces and will take action to see this through. "
News of Krusinski's arrest comes as the Pentagon will release Tuesday its annual figures for sexual assault in the military. The figures will show 3,374 sexual assaults reported in fiscal year 2012, a 6 percent increase from the 3,192 reported in 2011.
The military defines sexual assault as ranging from incidents of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching to rape.
Pentagon officials believe sexual assaults go underreported and estimate that the actual number of incidents of unwanted sexual contact in 2012 may have been 26,000, a sharp increase from the estimated 19,000 in 2011.
Some lawmakers responded strongly to news of Krusinski's arrest.
"When I saw this it made me literally sick to my stomach," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said. "How many more reasons do we need to take cases of rape and sexual assault out of the chain of command?"
Speier introduced legislation in April that would establish a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council and create an enhanced Sexual Assault Oversight and Response office within the military.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called the report "extremely disturbing."
"It is clear that the status quo regarding sexual assaults in the military is simply unacceptable," Gillibrand said in a statement emailed to ABC News. "Next week, I am going to take this issue head on by introducing a set of commonsense reforms. We have to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases and take on the culture that perpetuates this kind of behavior."
Defense Secretary Hagel ordered a review of rules surrounding military convictions for sexual assault in March after an Air Force general decided to throw out an F-16 fighter pilot's jury conviction for aggravated sexual assault.
ABC News' Tom Shine and Sarah Parnass contributed to this story.