Jury ac­quits Air Force of­fi­cer ac­cused of grop­ing woman out­side bar

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MATTHEW BARAKAT

An Air Force of­fi­cer who once led the branch’s sex­ual as­sault re­sponse team was ac­quit­ted Wednes­day of charges he groped a woman out­side a Vir­ginia bar.

A seven-mem­ber jury in Ar­ling­ton County Cir­cuit Court de­lib­er­ated about an hour af­ter hear­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments in the mis­de­meanor as­sault case against Lt. Col. Jef­frey Krusin­ski, 42, of Ar­ling­ton. His ar­rest fueled a na­tional furor over sex­ual abuse in the mil­i­tary and whether top brass take the is­sue se­ri­ously.

A 23-year-old woman tes­ti­fied that Col. Krusin­ski grabbed her back­side May 5 out­side a Crys­tal City bar.

De­fense lawyers ar­gued that there were in­con­sis­ten­cies in her story. In par­tic­u­lar, the de­fense homed in on the woman’s tes­ti­mony that she punched Col. Krusin­ski a few times in the face in re­tal­i­a­tion. Nu­mer­ous other wit­nesses, though, de­scribed see­ing her hit him count­less times.

Pros­e­cu­tors had urged the jury not to be dis­tracted by what hap­pened af­ter the al­leged grope.

Col. Krusin­ski showed no vis­i­ble re­ac­tion af­ter the verdict was read but smiled and hugged fam­ily mem­bers out­side the court­room. He did not re­spond when re­porters asked him for his re­ac­tion.

The jury fore­woman, Ali­son Kutchma, said “the com­mon­wealth did not present ev­i­dence to meet the thresh­old of rea­son­able doubt. Our job was to look at the ev­i­dence.”

She de­clined to say whether there was any tes­ti­mony or is­sue in par­tic­u­lar that swayed the jury.

Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Theo Sta­mos said she was dis­ap­pointed by the verdict. “We think we put on a good case, but the jury, as they say, has spo­ken.”

The woman who brought the com­plaint de­clined to com­ment leav­ing the court­room. Ms. Sta­mos met with her af­ter the verdict and de­scribed her as “re­lieved that it’s over.”

The woman tes­ti­fied that Col. Krusin­ski grabbed her back­side. Her state­ment was sup­ported by a bar em­ployee who tes­ti­fied that she saw the grope as well, though she de­scribed it some­what dif­fer­ently. The em­ployee said Col. Krusin­ski had also groped her and another em­ployee min­utes be­fore.

De­fense lawyers ar­gued there were more in­con­sis­ten­cies in the al­leged vic­tim’s story, par­tic­u­larly in how she de­scribed the af­ter­math. For in­stance, she de­nied us­ing her cell­phone as a weapon, but sev­eral wit­nesses said they saw her

length of time the per­mit al­lows for the rally and whether it would al­low camp­ing in the park. Oc­cupy D.C. mem­bers kept a camp at McPher­son Square in North­west D.C. for nearly four months dur­ing the fall of 2011 and win­ter of 2012 un­til U.S. Park Po­lice even­tu­ally dis­man­tled the group’s struc­tures and evicted the pro­test­ers.

Though the speak­ers lined up for Tues­day’s rally are con­ser­va­tive, Mr. Klay­man said all po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies are wel­come, ar­gu­ing that lib­er­als have plenty of rea­son to get fired up as well. He faults Repub­li­can lead­ers for not drilling down into the pres­i­dent’s Af­ford­able Care Act to deter­mine be­fore­hand that peo­ple were at risk of los­ing their ex­ist­ing health in­sur­ance plans.

“Now they are com­ing on TV all smiles think­ing they will take the elec­tions in 2014,” Mr. Klay­man said.

Among the speak­ers billed to at­tend rally across the street from the White House are for­mer Rep. Bob Barr, peren­nial pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Alan Keyes and the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica, Larry Pratt.

In ad­di­tion to Mr. Obama, the group is also calling for the res­ig­na­tions of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, and House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can.

Krusin­ski

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