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DOWD: A new perspective on military injustice

Along with a boosted Buick LeSabre, another incident listed on a crime report Sunday in Arlington County, Va., was a creepy attack by a man on a woman.

"On May 5 at 12:35 a.m., a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks," the report read. "The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with sexual battery."

Krusinski's mug shot, showing scarlet scratches on his face, is a portrait in misery.

He knew his arrest on charges of groping a stranger would send the capital reeling and his career at the nearby Pentagon spiraling. The Air Force lieutenant colonel charged with sexual battery was the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force. (He had just finished his sexual assault victim training.) There was a fox-in-the-henhouse echo of Clarence Thomas, who Anita Hill said sexually harassed her when he was the nation's top enforcer of laws against workplace sexual harassment.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller issued a white-hot statement, calling Krusinski's arrest "further evidence that the military isn't taking the issue of sexual assault seriously," and "a stain on the military" that "should shake us to our core."

President Barack Obama was also lacerating on the subject of the Krusinski arrest and the cases of two Air Force lieutenant generals who set aside sexual assault convictions after jury trials.

He said training and awareness programs masking indifference will no longer stand: "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."

It has been a bad week for the hidebound defenders of a hopelessly antiquated military justice system that views prosecution decisions in all cases, including rape and sexual assault, as the private preserve of commanders rather than lawyers.

"They are dying a thousand deaths," said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. CAAFlog, the leading military justice blog, called it "the death knell" for the current system, at least for sexual assault cases.

During the Thomas-Hill hearings, many powerful men here — even ones defending Hill publicly — privately assumed that she was somehow complicit in encouraging Thomas' vulgar behavior. Feminists ranted "they just don't get it" so often that it became a grating cliche.


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