The Norman Transcript

May 12, 2013

A story too baffling to be true


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Sometimes the reporter -- who, after all, is supposed to be skeptical -- runs across a story that seems simply too bizarre to be true. The arrest of Lt. Col. Jeffery Krusinski is certainly one of those. Lt. Col. Krusinski is charged with grabbing a woman in a parking lot outside the Pentagon by her breasts and buttocks and is now accused of sexual battery. By now, we probably all know that Krusinski is the man in charge of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Or he was. He’s been removed from the job. Probably a smart move. That still won’t stop higher-ups from having to explain how he got the position in the first place.

What makes this even more galling is its timing. The alleged groping occurred just as the Pentagon released a report that shows sexual assaults in the military have increased by 35 percent in the past two years. It shouldn’t be startling, given all the news of misconduct by boot-camp trainers with their trainees, and celebrated cases where commanding generals have unilaterally overturned sex-related convictions against subordinate officers.

The commander in chief has weighed in, demanding reform: “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged -- period.” But he might want to focus on his top commanders. He can start with Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh, who told a Senate hearing that much of the blame rests with the “hookup” culture of the young generation. Whatever one thinks of the choice of some kids to get it on without emotional attachment, Gen. Welsh still seems to miss the point that this hooking up is consensual, while forcible assault obviously is not. “Obviously,” sputtered New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, “there’s a failing in training and understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive it is.” Ya think?

Another too ooey-gooey-good-to-be-true story involved the guy credited with rescuing the three women imprisoned for 10 years in a house in Cleveland, held in restraints while they were constantly raped and otherwise abused. One of the neighbors who finally freed them, Charles Ramsey, made such a hit with his televised descriptions that he became an instant celebrity. Alas, he is not the quintessential hero. It seems Mr. Ramsey has a criminal record, including convictions for domestic violence. Still, even his former wife says he’s a changed man, and he did help free the three from their tortuous captivity, so it’s possible that Ramsey may end up symbolizing the power of redemption.

He can join Mark Sanford in that recovery ward. He’s Congressman Sanford again, returning to politics after his embarrassing downfall as Gov. Sanford two years ago. Everybody remembers the humiliation of getting caught when he told everyone how he’d be out “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” when he had actually snuck away to Buenos Aires to be in the arms of his Argentine lover. His wife at the time was not amused. They divorced, and Sanford’s “hike” became a national joke. Still, the voters in his South Carolina district elected him to head to Washington. Apparently, they feel he’s served his time in rehab. Either that or they preferred his arch-conservatism -- at least fiscally, if not physically -- over sending a hated Democrat. So he’s back in the nation’s capital, which, by the way, isn’t all that far from the Appalachian Trail. He’s taught a valuable lesson to everyone, which is to come up with some other euphemism for fooling around.

His story is relatively straightforward, as compared with the unspeakable horror of the three women in Cleveland and the contemptible battery against thousands in the military. Too many in that male-dominated culture have considered such offenses routine. In its own way, that’s the worst.

(c) 2013 Bob Franken Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.