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Jury acquits Air Force officer in sexual assault trial

A jury has found Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski not guilty of a charge of assault and battery stemming from a May 5 incident in which he was accused of grabbing a woman’s buttocks.

The jury took just over an hour to reach its verdict.

Prosecutors had originally sought to charge Krusinski, a Fairfield native who at the time was the head of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, with sexual battery, but later opted instead to pursue a charge of assault and battery. His case has been highlighted as an example of the military’s struggles with sexual assault within its ranks. It came during the same week that the Senate was focusing on the issue of sexual assault in the military.

Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos admitted the “odd confluence of events” caused the case to draw a great deal of attention.

Police had said that a heavily intoxicated Krusinski, now 42, had approached a 23-year-old woman during the early morning hours of May 5 and grabbed her buttocks. During testimony during the two-day trial, the woman said she fought back. She said she used her fists, but other witnesses said she hit him repeatedly with her cell phone — enough that he was covered with blood. One witness, disturbed by the extent of his injuries, called an ambulance to seek medical care for him. His police mug shot at the time showed Krusinski with cuts, scratches and abrasions.

But the victim said she was merely fighting back, and said that she felt “violated” when Krusinski approached her. She testified that he asked her if she “liked it.”

Krusinski, leaving the courtroom after the verdict, did not comment on the verdict. But he added, “I just want to say, I love my children.” He is divorced and has two children who live in Butler County.

Defense Attorney Barry Coburn said Krusinski was “extremely gratified and relieved” by the verdict.

Jury foreperson Alison Kutchma said the seven-person jury — which included five men and two women — felt that that prosecutors “did not present evidence to meet the threshold of reasonable doubt.”

“A lot of lives were impacted by what happened,” she said. “That’s very clear.”

During the second day of a two-day trial, Krusinski’s lawyers attempted to paint the testimony as riddled with inconsistencies. They pointed out disparities in witness testimony on everything ranging from the position where the victim was standing when she was approached by Krusinski, to whether she hit Krusinski with just her fists or with her cell phone.

Arlington County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cari Steele argued that inconsistencies were common with witness testimony. “There inconsistencies because life is inconsistent,” she argued.

Coburn focused heavily on how the victim fought back. Even when she was striking Krusinski, testified witness Rene Miranda, Krusinski didn’t fight back.

“She kept hitting him,” Miranda said, describing the scene as “incredible.”

Defense attorneys began the day by requesting — and being denied — a mistrial. Coburn argued that testimony given the prior day by a server who reported having her buttocks grabbed by Krusinski shortly before the alleged incident would unfairly prejudice the jury.

“That bell just can’t be unrung,” he said.

An Air Force spokeswoman said Krusinski is currently assigned to a personnel office and that the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program has been reorganized recently in a way that Krusinski’s former position no longer exists.

The Pentagon has said no any potential disciplinary or administrative action against Krusinski will be determined after his trial.

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