In the years leading up to his weekend arrest for groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot, Fairfield native Jeffrey Krusinski, the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault and prevention unit, appeared to be struggling personally.
When his wife of 14 years, Cheryl Masanek, filed for divorce 10 days before Christmas in 2008, she claimed in court records “that the parties are incompatible, that Defendant is guilty of gross neglect of duty, and that by reason thereof she should be granted a divorce from Defendant.” Masanek did not elaborate on her allegation, which Krusinski denied when he replied asking the judge to dismiss her divorce complaint.
In April 2009, a Butler County Common Pleas judge approved a restraining order filed by Masanek who checked four reasons, including “fearful he may attempt to re-enter their marital residence.” Their divorce was finalized in September 2009, and two months later Krusinski was deployed to Iraq for seven months.
And on May 1, Masanek filed a “motion to modify parenting time,” requesting that the couple’s two children no longer be allowed to leave Ohio to visit him. She sought to change the original terms of their “Sharing Parenting Plan,” but did not provide any reasons in her court filings reviewed by the newspaper.
“Plaintiff states that it is in the children’s best interest that beginning with Defendant’s summer parenting time that the parenting time be exercised in Ohio in an environment where the children feel security and also so that the children and Defendant may continue counseling together with the children’s counselor in Ohio,” according to court records.
Krusinski and Masanek are scheduled to appear in court on June 17 on the visitation motion. A certified letter of the latest motion was sent to Krusinski’s apartment in Arlington, Va., on May 3, according to an historical listing of their divorce case on the Butler County Clerk of Courts website.
No history of problems
The combination of these factors provide a more complicated portrait of the 41-year-old Krusinski than initially offered by the Air Force. The Air Force said earlier this week that nothing irregular was found in Krusinski’s personnel file that would have disqualified him to lead the service’s sexual assault prevention office prior to the alleged incident. Air Force officials said he was selected based on his past performance and command experience. Krusinski has no public record of breaking the law.
But now Krusinski, who has been relieved of his duties after two months pending the investigation, may face $2,500 in fines, up to 12 months in jail, or a combination of both as a result of allegation. Arlington police said Krusinski was allegedly drunk when he attempted grope the woman in a Crystal City parking lot about 12:30 a.m. Sunday during Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The woman, who told police she did not know Krusinski, fought him off and called police.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Krusinski in the area and he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor sexual battery. The alleged incident happened within two blocks of Krusinski’s apartment.
Krusinski made his first court appearance at the Arlington General District Court Thursday on charges of sexual battery, a misdemeanor.
Krusinski, wearing a navy sport court and pants rather than Air Force uniform, spoke only briefly during the minutes-long court appearance to tell Judge Richard J. McCue that he understood the charge against him. His attorney, Sheryl Shane, requested a trial date of September in order to prepare for the case “because there’s such a public interest” in it. She said she needed the time to gather witness testimony.
McCue denied her request, setting the trial for 2 p.m., July 18.
Krusinski did not enter a plea. After his appearance, he initially chose to exit out a back door before changing his mind and exiting through a door surrounded by media. He did not make any comment during the walk to his car. Assistant Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Cari Steele, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.
Neither Masanek nor her divorce attorney, M. Lynn Lampe, could be reached for comment or responded to messages.
On Friday, the Air Force told the newspaper they were aware of Krusinski’s divorce, but noted there was “no adverse information” in his personnel file that would have raised concerns.
“We are aware that Lt. Col. Krusinski is divorced,” said Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon. “We generally do not get involved in purely civil matters, nor are we necessarily informed of them by the individuals involved or the civil courts.
“Purely civil matters would not ordinarily be documented in an individual’s official military personnel record. Should a civil matter impact an individual’s ability to perform their military duties then commanders will address that situation on a case by case basis and any actions taken as a result could be documented in an individual’s military personnel record. There is no adverse information in Lt. Col. Krusinski’s official military personnel record.”
Krusinski’s arraignment came on the same day U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, met with members of President Barack Obama’s staff to discuss how best to tackle the issue of sexual assault in the military.
Turner was joined by a handful of other lawmakers, including Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, at the White House meeting to talk with Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, and other administration officials, including Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a White House coordinator for defense policy. They talked about “the need to change the culture in the military which discourages the reporting of sexual assaults,” Turner said. Turner this week introduced a bill aimed to prevent military officers from overruling court martial or other punishments for sexual assault.
Krusinski’s arrest is the latest in a string of bad news for the military: The Air Force faced criticism after an Air Force lieutenant general decided in February to overturn the sexual assault conviction of a fighter pilot at Aviano Air Base in Italy. And more recently, Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, nominated to be vice commander of the Air Force’s Space Command, saw her nomination blocked by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., after it was reported Helms overturned the conviction of a captain charged with aggravated sexual assault.
Also this week, the Pentagon released a report finding that the number of sexual assaults reported by service members rose from 3,192 in 2011 to 3,374 in 2012. The Defense Department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted based on anonymous surveys, however, up from an estimated 19,000 in 2011.
If Krusinski is found guilty of those charges, it is possible he may face additional charges from the military. Tingley said the Air Force would not comment specifically on the Krusinski case but said that the Air Force can initiate court martial proceedings or non-judicial punishments on service members previously tried in a state or foreign court.
The additional proceedings must be approved by the Secretary of the Air Force, and only after the conclusion of the civilian judicial process. A non-judicial punishment can include a letter in a service-member’s file or other punishment, and is given “only in the most unusual cases,” she said.
Before heading up that office, he was the Force Support Squadron commander at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., and served seven months in Iraq at Joint Base Balad, among other assignments in a two-decade career.
He is a 1990 Fairfield High School and a 1994 Air Force Academy graduate, who earned a graduate degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He has lived in Fairfield, Liberty Twp., and West Chester Twp., according to a review of public records.
Staff writer Barrie Barber contributed to this report.
We have two reporters working full-time in Washington to bring you the latest news you need on politics, government spending and military affairs. Follow us on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics