Arlington — An Air Force officer who led the branch's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit has been charged with groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot, authorities said on Monday.
Arlington County Police said Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski of Arlington faces a misdemeanour charge of sexual battery following an alleged assault at about 00:30 on Sunday in the Crystal City area of the county.
A police report says that the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman's breast and buttocks. Police say the woman fought him off and phoned police.
Police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck says Krusinski did not know the woman involved.
Susie Doyle, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Sheriff's Office, said Krusinski was released on Sunday on a $5 000 personal recognisance bond. An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
A working phone number for Krusinski could not be found on Monday and court records did not list an attorney.
Air Force spokesperson Natasha Waggoner said Krusinski was removed from his post in the sexual assault unit after the Air Force learned of his arrest. He started in the post in February.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has spoken with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley about the matter and "expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasised that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively", Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement on Monday.
The spokesperson said Hagel has been trying to raise the Pentagon's focus on sexual assault prevention and response, and will soon announce new steps to address "this vile crime".
"Sexual assault has no place in the United States military," Little said. "The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behaviour that violates not only the law, but basic principles of respect, honour, and dignity in our society and its military. Secretary Hagel is firmly committed to upholding the highest standards of behaviour in America's armed forces and will take action to see this through."
An Air Force website says the "Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program reinforces the Air Force's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through awareness and prevention training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability".
The website continues: "Sexual assault is criminal conduct. It falls well short of the standards America expects of its men and women in uniform."