Woman tes­ti­fies about grop­ing at Air Force of­fi­cer’s trial

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MATTHEW BARAKAT

A woman tes­ti­fied that an Air Force of­fi­cer who once led the branch’s sex­u­alas­sault re­sponse team groped her out­side a Crys­tal City bar, then asked her if she liked it.

A mis­de­meanor as­sault trial be­gan Tues­day for Lt. Col. Jef­frey Krusin­ski, 42, of Ar­ling­ton. He was ar­rested May 5 and ini­tially charged with mis­de­meanor sex­ual bat­tery, set­ting off a na­tional furor about sex­ual abuse in the mil­i­tary and whether top brass take the is­sue se­ri­ously.

Ar­ling­ton County pros­e­cu­tors sub­se­quently dropped the sex­ual bat­tery charge and sub­sti­tuted a generic as­saultand-bat­tery charge. Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Theo Sta­mos said the new charge was more ap­pro­pri­ate given the stan­dard of proof re­quired for a sex­ual bat­tery con­vic­tion in Vir­ginia.

But the core al­le­ga­tion re­mains the same. In court Tues­day, the 23-year-old woman told a seven-mem­ber jury that Col. Krusin­ski grabbed and squeezed her but­tocks out­side a row of bars and restau­rants, and then asked her, “Did you like it?”

The woman, who works for the Trea­sury Depart­ment, said she felt “just to­tally vi­o­lated.” She tes­ti­fied that she fol­lowed him a few steps as he walked past, con­fronted him, and punched him in the face sev­eral times af­ter he ges­tic­u­lated in a man­ner that brought his hands close to her chest.

A mug shot of Col. Krusin­ski taken af­ter his ar­rest shows his face badly scratched.

An em­ployee at one of the bars tes­ti­fied that she wit­nessed part of the grop­ing, and that min­utes ear­lier Col. Krusin­ski had grabbed the but­tocks of two bar em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing her­self.

The em­ployee de­scribed Col. Krusin­ski as “a very happy drunk” who ap­proached her and sev­eral bar em­ploy­ees on a smoke break, ask­ing to bum a cig­a­rette. The em­ployee said Col. Krusin­ski grabbed the but­tocks of one em­ployee, and then grabbed hers. She said she fre­quently deals with drunken cus­tomers and brushed it off.

The em­ployee, a trans­sex­ual, said Col. Krusin­ski whis­pered to her, “You have a pe­nis. I have a pe­nis. It’s OK. You can come home with me.”

“He was a drunken mess,” the em­ployee said of Col. Krusin­ski.

She said a minute or two later, she saw Col. Krusin­ski walk past the woman who filed charges and “saw his hand come off from her but­tocks.”

The em­ployee said the woman then “went crazy” and started beat­ing Col. Krusin­ski, who stood with his hands be­hind his back and “just took it like a guy.” Only af­ter the woman put her fin­gers in Col. Krusin­ski’s nose and twisted did he try to pro­tect him­self, the em­ployee said.

“I don’t know if it was guilt or what,” said the em­ployee, who said that Col. Krusin­ski seemed re­morse­ful.

Both the woman and the em­ployee were iden­ti­fied in court, but The As­so­ci­ated Press gen­er­ally does not iden­tify in­di­vid­u­als who say they have been sex­u­ally as­saulted.

There were some dif­fer­ences in how the em­ployee and the al­leged vic­tim de­scribed the at­tack. The woman said she felt Col. Krusin­ski come up be­hind her, with his chest to her back, and grabbed her but­tocks with both hands. The em­ployee de­scribed see­ing the two walk­ing in op­po­site di­rec­tions and only see­ing one of Col. Krusin­ski’s hands on the woman.

The woman said she punched Col. Krusin­ski sev­eral times in the face af­ter fol­low­ing and con­fronting him.

The em­ployee said she saw the woman hit­ting Col. Krusin­ski as many as 15 times, strik­ing from be­hind on the back of his head with her cell­phone.

In open­ing state­ments, de­fense at­tor­ney Barry Coburn said the in­con­sis­ten­cies in wit­ness ac­counts would add up to rea­son­able doubt.

Prose­cu­tor Cari Steele said the stan­dard of proof for a mis­de­meanor as­sault con­vic­tion re­quires that Col. Krusin­ski will­fully touched the woman in an “an­gry, rude, in­sult­ing or venge­ful man­ner.”

The Air Force re­moved Col. Krusin­ski from his Sex­ual As­sault Preven­tion and Re­sponse unit post af­ter his ar­rest.

The trial is ex­pected to con­tinue un­til Wed­nes­day or Thurs­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Air Force Lt. Col. Jef­frey Krusin­ski’s trial started Tues­day in Ar­ling­ton County.

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