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A US Air Force general is court martialed for the first time in the service’s history.
The charge relates to allegations of sexual assault against a civilian during an off-duty incident in 2018.
The Air Force said it was not clear at this time when the court martial will take place.
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A two-star U.S. Air Force general faces court martial in a first for the Air Force, the service said on Wednesday.
Sexual assault charge against Air Force Maj. Gen. William Cooley, a former Air Force research lab commander, has been referred to court martial, Materiel Command said of the Air Force in a press release.
“After a full review of all the evidence from the Article 32 inquiry and preliminary hearing, I informed Major General Cooley of my decision to refer his case to General Court Martial,” he said. said General Arnold Bunch, the AFMC commander, said.
“I can assure you it was not a decision taken lightly, but I think it was the right decision,” he added.
The sexual assault charge against the general is linked to an off-duty incident in 2018 in which Cooley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances, particularly kissing and touching, to a civilian woman in New Mexico, said the ‘Air Force.
Cooley was fired from his post at the research lab in January last year following an investigation into the incident, and he was indicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice last November, following a closer examination. The case then went to a Article 32 hearing in February, and now the general is heading for a court martial.
Air Force Materiel Command spokesman Derek Kaufman, along with the Air Force Public Affairs Office, confirmed to Insider that this was the first time in Air Force history that a general officer was faced with this type of trial.
The Air Force stressed in its statement on the decision to go to court martial that, just like with civil trials, Cooley is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Insider was unable to contact Cooley’s legal team for comment.
The decision to refer the sexual assault charges against Cooley to court martial was first reported by Military.com.
Cooley is not the first Air Force general officer to face allegations of sexual misconduct, but none of those cases have been referred to a general court martial. The Air Force declined to speculate as to why this case is progressing while others have not.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rachel VanLandingham, a former judge advocate who now teaches law, told Task & Purpose in November that general officers “don’t want to sue because it ‘is that old network of buddies “. But that could change.
President Joe Biden’s Defense Secretary, retired four-star General Lloyd Austin, has made tackling sexual assault in the military a priority. One of his first acts after taking office was to order a review of the way the military deals with such cases.
Regarding Cooley’s case, “the Air Force trial magistrate will identify a senior military judge and coordinate the time and place of the court martial process,” the Army said. ‘air, adding that “jurors, or members of the tribunal, must be senior officers rank or equivalent rank but with a rank date prior to the accused.”
Air Force public affairs officials told Insider it is not known exactly when the court martial will take place.
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