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Former Wright-Patt Commander To Face Court-Martial For Alleged Misconduct

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Wesley Farnsworth
/
U.S. Air Force
Then-Brig. Gen. William T. Cooley (center) salutes after assuming command of the Air Force Research Laboratory during a ceremony in the National Museum of the United States Air Force May, 2, 2017.

The former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will face a general court-martial. Maj. Gen. William Cooley was removed from command Jan. 15, 2020, following allegations of sexual assault.

Gen. Arnold. W. Bunch, Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander, reviewed the case and referred one charge with three specifications of sexual assault, according to an Air Force release.

"After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence from the investigation and the Article 32 preliminary hearing, I've informed Maj. Gen. Cooley of my decision to move his case to general court-martial," Bunch writes. "I can assure you this was not a decision made lightly, but I believe it was the right decision."

The Air Force announced the investigation in January 2020 but didn't specify the charges initially. Cooley  allegedly kissed and touched a female victim during an off-duty incident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Aug. 12, 2018. After being relieved of his duties, Cooley "served as special assistant to Bunch, with duties focused primarily on advancing the command's digital campaign," a statement says.

Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, was appointed Oct. 1, 2020, to review the evidence and make an initial assessment. Under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, he preferred the aforementioned charge with sexual assault specifications.

According to the Air Force, that resulted in a preliminary hearing earlier this year similar to a civilian grand jury. A military judge determined the case should go before a general court-martial.

A trial date is not yet set.