WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A military judge has made a recommendation in the case of Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley. The former Air Force Research Lab commander faced an Article 32 hearing Feb. 8, in which the judge heard the evidence surrounding the case, and has subsequently made his recommendation.
“The Preliminary Hearing Officer has completed the report and transmitted it to the Air Force Materiel Command Staff Judge Advocate,” AFMC spokesman Derek Kaufman said Thursday via email. “Following Judge Advocate review and processing, it will then be provided to the Convening Authority, Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC commander.”
The Preliminary Hearing Officer can make a wide range of recommendations on disposition from no action to general court-martial, Kaufman said. However, the report and its contents cannot be released to the public until the disposition of the case is complete. A timeline for the disposition has not been set.
The purpose of the Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury, is to determine whether or not the charge constitutes a violation of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and to determine whether or not the case should proceed to a court-martial.
Cooley faces a potentially historic legal proceeding, having been charged with three counts of sexual assault under Article 120 of the UCMJ. If his case proceeds to court-martial, Cooley would be the first Air Force general in history to face such a trial.
The charge stems from an alleged off-duty incident in in Albuquerque, NM in August 2018. The formal charge indicates that Cooley allegedly kissed and groped a woman “with an intent to gratify his sexual desire.” The document also asserts that Cooley caused the woman to touch his genitalia through his clothes, and touched her breast through her clothes.
Though the alleged victim was known to Cooley, she is not a member of the military or a Department of Defense employee.
During the Article 32 hearing, Cooley maintained his innocence, saying his accuser’s “marriage and reputation depended on this lie.”
Prosecutors maintained that the kiss was nonconsensual, and said it was “categorically impossible” for Cooley to have told the truth to the Office of Special Investigations, which oversaw his case.
The charge was first preferred in October by Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, the initial disposition authority in the case.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.