WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — An Air Force major general in Ohio has been convicted by a military judge of one of three specifications of abusive sexual contact in the first-ever military trial of an Air Force general.
Major-General William Cooley was charged during the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base court-martial in Ohio. There were three specifications to his charges. One alleges a forcible sex and two allege forcible touching. Cooley was found guilty of forcible touching in 2018 but was not convicted of the second.
Officials said the verdict marks the first court-martial trial and conviction of a general officer in the Air Force’s 75-year history.
Cooley is a former Air Force Research Laboratory commander. He was charged with abuse sexual contact following an encounter in New Mexico with a woman. It happened almost four years ago. Officials say the woman was not an employee of the Department of Defense but is a civilian.
Cooley would be sentenced Monday morning. He could spend as long as seven years behind bars and face loss of rank and pay.
Cooley was given the choice of trial by either court member jurors, or by a military judge. He chose to have his case heard before a judge.
“Today marks the first time an Air Force general officer has been held responsible for his heinous actions,” the woman’s attorney Ryan Guilds, said in a statement, the Dayton Daily News reported. “Hopefully, this will not be as difficult for the next survivor.”
After an Air Force investigation, Cooley lost his position as a research lab scientist in January 2020. Since then, he has been working in administrative positions. On Saturday, a message was sent to Cooley’s attorney asking for comment.
“This case clearly demonstrates the commitment of Air Force leaders to fully investigate the facts and hold Airmen of any rank accountable for their actions when they fail to uphold Air Force standards,” Col. Eric Mejia, staff judge advocate for Air Force Materiel Command, said in a statement.
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