- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 22, 2021

The former commander of the Pentagon’s Air Force Research Laboratory will face court-martial over a sexual assault charge, military officials said Wednesday, marking a rare instance in which an Air Force general has faced such serious discipline.

Defense Department officials said Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley will face a court-martial proceeding in connection with an off-duty incident in 2018 in which the officer allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward a female civilian victim. Maj. Gen. Cooley in January 2020 was relieved of his command at the Air Force Research Laboratory, located at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The case is believed to be the first time in modern history that an Air Force general has faced court-martial, analysts told Military.com.

Military officials said they are well aware of the seriousness of the situation.

“After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence from the investigation and the Article 32 preliminary hearing, I’ve informed Maj. Gen. Cooley of my decision to move his case to general court-martial,” Gen. Arnold. W. Bunch Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander, said in a statement. “I can assure you this was not a decision made lightly, but I believe it was the right decision.”

The Air Force stressed that Maj. Gen. Cooley is “presumed innocent until proven otherwise by competent legal authority.”

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