The US air force officer in charge of his branch's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programme has been arrested for groping a woman.

According to a report in ARLNow , Lt. Col Jeffrey Krusinski was arrested in the early hours of Sunday in Arlington, Virginia for assaulting a woman in a car park.

An Arlington County Police spokesman told Reuters that a drunken Krusinski confronted the woman inside a garage outside the Crystal City area of Arlington.

The police statement read: "On May 5 at 12:35 am, a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. 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. He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond."

Following the attack, Krusinski has been stripped of his post by the US Air Force while an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

'Outrage and disgust'

Following Krusinski's arrest, the Defense Department released a statement on Monday condemning sexual assault in the military.

"This evening Secretary [Chuck] Hagel spoke to Air Force Secretary [Michael] Donley about allegations of misconduct involving an Air Force officer who had been responsible for the service's sexual assault and prevention efforts and was removed today from his position pending the outcome of an investigation," the statement read.

"Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasised that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

"Sexual assault has no place in the United States military. The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behavior that violates not only the law, but basic principles of respect, honor, and dignity in our society and its military."

According to the report in Reuters, more than three thousand cases of sexual assault were reported in the military between September 2010 and the end of 2011 alone.

Some Pentagon officials have even suggested the actual number of sexual assault cases could be as high as 19,000 a year. However many cases go underreported due to victims' reluctance to report the crime.