Hearing delayed for Wright-Patterson general facing sex charge that could prompt court martial

By THOMAS GNAU | The Dayton Daily News | Published: January 25, 2021

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The Article 32 hearing against a former commander of Air Force Research Lab has been rescheduled to Feb. 8 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, an Air Force Materiel Command spokesman confirmed Monday.

In the hearing, a military judge will review a sexual assault charge against Maj. Gen. William Cooley. Counsel for the defense and the accuser participate. The preliminary hearing had been scheduled to convene on Wednesday.

The case is not set to go to the court martial stage yet. After an investigation by the Office of Special Investigations, a charge and three specifications of violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military were brought against Cooley. Article 120 concerns sexual assault.

Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force and the president of the group Protect Our Defenders, told the Dayton Daily News in November that if the Cooley case goes to court-martial, he will be the first general officer in Air Force history to do so. Protect Our Defenders is an organization that advocates for victims of sexual assault in the military.

"An Air Force general has never been court-martialed," Christensen said at the time. "It's a big deal that they're doing this."

Cooley led AFRL since May 2017. The lab employs about 10,000 military and civilian personnel, including directorates in several states.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of Air Force Materiel Command, relieved Cooley from command in January 2020 due "to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, related to alleged misconduct which is currently under investigation," AFMC said at the time.

The attorney for the accuser, Ryan Guilds, declined to comment, while Cooley's attorney, Dan Conway, confirmed the date change for the hearing.

AFMC and AFRL are both headquartered at Wright-Patterson.

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