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President Calls Sex Abuse "Betrayal of Uniform"

6:08 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The Commander In Chief is calling it a "betrayal of the uniform." 

The President is blasting sexual assault in the military after the Air Force Lt. Col Jeffrey Krusinski, who was in charge of stopping it was himself charged with sexual battery.

The latest is that the Arlington prosecutor has turned down a request by military lawyers at Bolling Air Force Base in DC that they get first crack at Krusinski.

Theo Stamos says she'll try Krusinski first. And the military -- which has a pretty sorry record on sex assault convictions -- can prosecute him when she's finished.

In Krusinski's mug shot, injuries suggesting his alleged victim may have fought back. He'd left an Arlington strip club, and police say he was drunk when he attacked a stranger in the parking lot, "grabbed her breasts and buttocks".. and when she pushed him off... "he attempted to touch her again."  

Air Force leaders have now removed Krusinski as commander of the Sexual Assault Prevention unit and the Commander in Chief wants to send a clear message. "Whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform. They may consider themselves patriots when they engage in this kind of behavior. That's not patriotic. It's a crime."

The Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen, Mark Welsh, III, tells me he's still searching for the best ways to reduce military sex assaults, "Everybody needs to be doing more, the whole country needs to be doing more, I will tell you this, we can't work any harder on this."
 
But Gen. Welsh faced tough questions at a Senate hearing. "If a victim does not believe the system is capable of believing her, there's no point in risking your entire career," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-Missouri).

In the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Invisible War," victims made clear how often women are attacked in the military. "I remember holding the closet and thinking 'what just happened,'" said one victim. "They made it clear, if I said anything, they were going to kill me," said another. A third said she was attacked by military police, so she had no one to report the attack to.

A military survey slated for release this week suggests a serious uptick in assaults. Last year, an estimated 26-thousand servicemen and women faced unwanted sexual contact... compared to 19,300 two years ago.

It's a strange quirk of military justice that commanders can -- without explanation -- dismiss charges against servicemembers accused of crimes -- even after a jury convicts them.

Both in the House and the Senate, there are now bills that would take sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and hand them over to independent prosecutors.

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