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Maj. Gen. William Cooley speaks in April 2019 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Cooley, the former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory, will be the first Air Force general officer to face court-martial on a sexual assault charge, officials said.
Maj. Gen. William Cooley speaks in April 2019 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Cooley, the former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory, will be the first Air Force general officer to face court-martial on a sexual assault charge, officials said. (Wesley Farnsworth/U.S. Air Force)

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The first court-martial of a general officer in the history of the Air Force has been scheduled for Jan. 10 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, according to the Air Force docket.

Ex-Air Force Research Lab commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley is charged under Article 120, which concerns sexual assault. A court-martial is analogous to a civilian trial.

Cooley is charged with kissing and touching a woman without her consent in Albuquerque, N.M., in August 2018, according to the Air Force charge.

A military attorney for Cooley has told the Dayton Daily News there was no unwanted touching and the case should not go to trial.

Cooley was the commander of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before he was relieved of his duties in January 2020. Cooley is currently a special assistant to the AFMC commander at WPAFB with duties primarily focused on advancing the command's digital campaign, according to the base.

Col. Mark Milam will serve as judge in the case, according to the docket. The trial is scheduled for 12 days.

"An Air Force general has never been court-martialed," Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force and the president of the group Protect Our Defenders, told the Dayton Daily News. "It's a big deal that they're doing this."

Christensen said the culture of the military may be changing after the "me too" movement and after Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén, a Fort Hood soldier who disappeared in April 2020, was found dead in late June 2020. Another soldier fatally shot himself before a federal complaint against him in the case was made public.

The Dayton Daily News does not publish the name of complainants or accusers in sexual assault cases.

Reporter Tom Gnau contributed to this story.

(c)2021 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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