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Air Force officer who led sex-assault unit cleared of assault charge

A booking photo of Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who formerly headed the military branch's sexual-abuse prevention office. Arlington County Police

An Air Force colonel who once headed the military branch's sexual assault prevent program, was acquitted on Wednesday of accusations he assaulted a woman in a groping incident near the Pentagon. 

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was originally charged with sexual battery in the incident last May, which occurred outside an Arlington, Va., bar.

The Air Force immediately removed him from command of the sexual assault prevent program.

The Arlington, Va., prosecutor later reduced the charge to assault only.

A seven-member jury deliberated for about an hour in the misdemeanor case, The Associated Press reported.

Witnesses testified that Krusinski had groped two other women before he grabbed a third woman’s behind in the bar’s parking lot. As Krusinski walked away the woman pursued him and beat him on the head and face with her cellphone.

Ray Martin, a bartender at nearby Freddie's Beach Bar, testified that Krusinski's face was "just awash in blood," and he told a co-worker to call 911, the AP reported. Martin said that Krusinski and the alleged victim appeared to be intoxicated.

Defense attorney's successfully argued there were inconsistencies to the accuser's story.

Alison Kutchma, the jury forewoman told the AP that "the commonwealth did not present evidence to meet the threshold of reasonable doubt. Our job was to look at the evidence."

The case drew national attention just as the Pentagon and military services were confronted with an alarming rise in the number of sexual assaults against both women and men in the military.

The Air Force replaced Krusinski as head of its sexual assault prevent program with a two-star female general.

Related:

Air Force's sex-abuse prevention honcho charged with sexual battery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.