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Trial of U.S. Air Force officer accused of groping woman begins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The trial of an officer accused of groping a woman while he headed the U.S. Air Force's sexual assault prevention unit began on Tuesday in a Virginia courtroom.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski is facing a jury trial in Arlington County, outside Washington, on a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery for allegedly groping a woman in a Pentagon parking lot in May.

Krusinski was the head of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch, and his arrest took place the same week that the Pentagon reported that unwanted sexual contact complaints jumped 37 percent last year.

Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos told Reuters she expected the trial to last two days.

Krusinski was originally accused of sexual battery but prosecutors revised the charge to assault and battery in July, saying it was a more appropriate charge.

If convicted of assault and battery, Krusinski faces a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to

$2,500.

After he was charged, Krusinski was moved to another military personnel job.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Maureen Bavdek)

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