The US Air Force has charged a two-star Major General with s.e,xual assault in what could be the first court-martial of a general in its 73-year history.
Major General William Cooley is accused of forcibly kissing and touching a civilian woman in August 2018.
The father-of-three faces a preliminary hearing on January 27, where a 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 US Air Force said.
Christensen, who now runs an advocacy group for victims of s.e.xual assault in the military, said senior officers often receive more lenient punishments than lower-ranking troops for similar crimes.
He added: ‘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.
‘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, saying the Air Force lacks evidence and voicemail messages from witnesses undermine the allegations.
‘On January 27th, we intend to show Gen. Cooley’s innocence using the accuser’s own words against the government,’ Conway told the US publication.
The victim’s attorney Ryan Guilds said: ‘The victim knows what happened, what the evidence will show, and what the accused did.’