Ex-Air Force Research Laboratory commander faces charge of unwanted 'touching, kissing'

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, then-commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, delivers remarks at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on April 18, 2019.


By THOMAS GNAU | Dayton Daily News | Published: November 10, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — An Air Force investigation disclosed evidence of misconduct by Air Force Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley leading to a charge of sexual assault against Cooley, the Air Force said Tuesday.

An Article 32 preliminary hearing will be convened Jan. 27, 2021, where a senior military judge will review the charge under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, including three specifications of sexual assault under Article 120, the Air Force Materiel Command said in a statement.

The charge stems from an August 2018 off-duty incident in Albuquerque, N.M., where "Cooley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances by kissing and touching a female victim," AFMC said. "The civilian victim is not a military member or (Department of Defense) employee," according to the command's description of the allegation against Cooley.

Cooley was relieved of his command of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in January this year by Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC).

AFRL and AFMC are headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Since then, Cooley has served as special assistant to Bunch, with duties focused primarily on advancing the command's digital campaign, the command said.

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

Kirkland preferred the UCMJ charge and specifications against Cooley Oct. 29 after "reviewing the facts of the case, including evidence noted in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Report of Investigation and consulting with legal authorities," AFMC said in its statement.

An Article 32 hearing is a preliminary hearing analogous to a civilian grand jury proceeding with a military judge advocate presiding as the hearing officer.

The presiding officer will review evidence and may hear witnesses called by the Air Force or the accused to determine if probable cause exists that the accused committed a UCMJ offense, as AFMC described the proceeding.

The officer will also provide a recommendation on disposition of any offenses supported by the evidence.

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