US Air Force Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley is accused of forcibly kissing and touching a civilian in 2018
The father-of-three will face an Article 32 preliminary hearing, on Jan. 27, where a senior military judge will review the charge
The judge could decide to send the case to a court-martial
That would make Ge. Cooley the first senior officer in the history of USAF history to be court martialed
Cooley who has a PhD in in engineering physics, was relieved of his command of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Jan 2020
The two star general, who joined the Air Force in 1990 denies the allegations
”On January 27th, we intend to show Gen. Cooley’s innocence using the accuser’s own words against the government,” says Cooley’s attorney
The US Air Force has charged a two-star Major General with sexual assault in what could be the first court-martial of a general in its 73-year history.
Major General William Cooley is accused of forcibly kissing and touching a civilian woman in August 2018.
Gen. Cooley will face an Article 32 preliminary hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, on Jan. 27, where a senior military judge will review the charge. The judge could decide to send the case to a court-martial.
‘If Maj. Gen. Cooley actually is tried by a court-martial, it will mark the first time in the Air Force’s 73-year history that it has prosecuted a general officer,’ Don Christensen, a former top prosecutor for the Air Force, said.
Christensen, who now runs an advocacy group for victims of sexual assault in the military, said senior officers often receive more lenient punishments than lower-ranking troops for similar crimes.
He added: ‘For far too long, the Air Force has operated a two-tier justice system in which senior officers are held to a lower standard than the men and women they lead.
‘Hopefully, this is a sign that the Air Force is finally recognizing the corrosive effect on good order and discipline when general officers are allowed to evade accountability for their criminal acts.’
Daniel Conway, Cooley’s attorney, denied the allegations against his client, saying the Air Force lacks evidence and voicemail messages from witnesses undermine the allegations.
‘On January 27th, we intend to show Gen. Cooley’s innocence using the accuser’s own words against the government,’ Conway said.
The victim’s attorney Ryan Guilds said: ‘The victim knows what happened, what the evidence will show, and what the accused did.’
General Arnold Bunch, who leads the Air Force Materiel Command at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, relieved Cooley of his command of the Air Force Research Laboratory in January this year. Cooley has since been serving in an administrative job under Bunch.
During his role at the Research Laboratory, Cooley was responsible for managing a $2.5 billion Air Force science and technology program.
The father-of-three, who earned a Doctor of Philosophy in engineering physics, joined the Air Force in 1998 and entered active duty in January 1990.
He has a twin brother, Dr Thomas Cooley, who works as a Chief Scientist for the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.