Former AFRL commander to face Article 32 hearing


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The former commander at the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has had his Article 32 hearing date moved, the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) announced last week.

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, who was charged with a single count of sexual assault, will have his Article 32 hearing on Feb. 8 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The hearing, originally scheduled for Jan. 27, was postponed due to COVID-related travel restrictions.

AFMC spokesperson Derek Kaufman said the delay was unrelated to coronavirus cases on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

An Article 32 preliminary hearing is a proceeding similar to a civilian grand jury. A senior military judge will review the official charge under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which includes three specifications of sexual assault under Article 120.

If Cooley’s case proceeds to a court-martial, he would be the first general in Air Force history to face such a trial.

Cooley is accused of allegedly making unwanted sexual advances on a female civilian victim who is not a Department of Defense employee. The alleged offenses occurred during an off-duty incident on Aug. 12, 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The woman’s name has not been released.

According to Cooley’s charge sheet, obtained by this newspaper, Cooley is accused of kissing the woman on her mouth “with an intent to gratify his sexual desire” without her consent. He is also accused of causing the woman to touch his genitalia through his clothing, and touching her breast through her clothes, all without her consent.

Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, is the authority to independently review the investigation. Kirkland preferred the UCMJ charge and specifications against Cooley on Oct. 29, 2020.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr, commander of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), fired Cooley from his position as commander of the AFRL in January 2020, as investigations were ongoing. Cooley has since served as special assistant to Bunch, primarily advancing the institution’s digital campaign.

By London Bishop

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Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.

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