A two-star officer in the Air Force was charged by the military branch with sexually assaulting a civilian woman, a new report said.
Maj. Gen. William Cooley, who’s accused of forcibly kissing and touching the woman in August 2018, could become the first general officer in the Air Force’s 73-year-old history to be court-martialed, USA Today reported.
Cooley faces a preliminary hearing on Jan. 27, where the senior military judge could decide to send the case to a court-martial.
“If Maj. Gen. Cooley actually is tried by a court-martial, it will mark the first time in the Air Force’s 73-year history that it has prosecuted a general officer,” Don Christensen, a former top prosecutor for the Air Force, told the outlet.
Christensen, who now runs an advocacy group for military sexual assault victims, said the there is a disparity in the way the Air Force disciplines its officers.
“For far too long, the Air Force has operated a two-tier justice system in which senior officers are held to a lower standard than the men and women they lead,” he said.
“Hopefully, this is a sign that the Air Force is finally recognizing the corrosive effect on good order and discipline when general officers are allowed to evade accountability for their criminal acts.”
Daniel Conway, Cooley’s attorney denied the allegations against his client.
“On January 27th, we intend to show Gen. Cooley’s innocence using the accuser’s own words against the government,” Conway told USA Today.
The victim’s lawyer, Ryan Guilds, told the outlet: “The victim knows what happened, what the evidence will show, and what the accused did.”
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