The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 12, 2013

A story too baffling to be true

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?

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