Jury acquits Air Force officer accused of groping woman outside bar
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.