Last week, Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, head of the U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, was charged with alleged sexual battery, a fact that led to a strong response from Chelmsford's member of Congress.
The news came on the same day that Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell), was briefed by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the Department of Defense's (DoD) annual report on sexual assualt in the military.
Tsongas, co-chair of the Congressional Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus thanked Hagel for presenting a plan for preventing sexual assault, but had scathing words for the current state of sexual harassment faced by members of the military.
"the DoD report indicates a staggering amount of instances of perceived retaliation against victims of sexual assault, which confirms the alarming and persistent anecdotal evidence we have heard," she said. “We have a long way to go toward combating and preventing sexual assault in the military and I am committed to continuing my work with my colleagues in Congress on this critical national security issue.”
Tsongas noted the Krusinski case as a clear example of the issue, saying that it also served to undermine progress in addressing the problem.
In response, Tsongas joined with Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) in crafting a piece of legislation titled the "Better Enforcement for Sexual Assault Free Environements" or "BE SAFE" Act.
If passed, the act would not allow military tribunals to dismiss Courts Martial except in minor instances, and would results in an automatic dismissal or dishonrable discharge for those in the military found guilty of sexual assault, rape, or forcible sodomy.
Turner specifically mentioned an incident late last year involving the overturning of a military sexual assult conviction Lt. Gen Craig Franklin.
Since taking on this issue over 7 years ago, I have grown more troubled by the military’s resistance to change its culture," said Turner. "With the unilateral decision by Lt. Gen. Franklin to overturn a sexual assault conviction and rob a victim of justice, it was clear further legislative action was needed."