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Air Force general charged with sexual assault

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances on a female civilian during an off-duty incident on August 12, 2018.
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The two-star general who once commanded the Air Force Research Laboratory has been charged with sexual assault, the Air Force announced on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances by kissing and touching a female civilian during an off-duty incident on August 12, 2018, the Air Force Material Command said in a press release. The civilian was not a military member or DoD employee. The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for a copy of the charge sheet.

An Article 32 preliminary hearing will be convened on Jan. 27, 2021, the press release said. An article 32 hearing is analogous to a civilian preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial.

Cooley was relieved of his command over AFRL on January 15, 2020 by Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of AFMC, which oversees AFRL. Cooley was relieved due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, related to alleged misconduct,” Bunch said at the time.

“The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously,” Bunch said at the time. “I expect our leadership to uphold the highest standards and live up to the Air Force’s core values.”

Ryan Guilds, the attorney representing Cooley’s alleged victim, told Air Force Times that she “is not interested in trying this matter in the media.”

“She knows what happened and what the evidence will show,” Guilds said. “She is confident that when her voice is heard the truth will justify the Air Force’s charges and demonstrate her bravery in coming forward.”

Cooley has since served as special assistant to Bunch, focused primarily on his Digital Campaign, which is meant to modernize the life cycle process for Air Force platforms and systems, Dayton Daily News reported in June.

As commander of the Ohio-based AFRL, Cooley headed a $4.8 billion science and technology program with a government work force of about 6,000 people, according to the major general’s biography.

Cooley has been in the branch since 1988, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He took the helm of AFRL in May, 2017 and was promoted to major general in July 2018.

Bunch appointed Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, as authority to independently review all available evidence and make an initial disposition decision.

Related: The US military saw an increase in reports of sexual assault in the ranks last year