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Investigation findings result in a charge against former AFRL commander

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

An Air Force investigation disclosed evidence of misconduct by Air Force Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley leading to the preferral of one charge.

An Article 32 preliminary hearing will be convened on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 where a senior military judge will review the charge under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, including three specifications of sexual assault under Article 120.

Cooley was relieved of his command of the Air Force Research Laboratory January 15, 2020 by Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander.  Subsequently, Cooley has served as special assistant to Bunch, with duties focused primarily on advancing the command’s Digital Campaign.

Bunch appointed Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, as authority to independently review all available evidence and make an initial disposition decision. 

Kirkland preferred the UCMJ charge and specifications against Cooley on October 29 after reviewing the facts of the case, including evidence noted in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Report of Investigation and consulting with legal authorities.

The charge stems from an August 12, 2018 off-duty incident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Cooley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances by kissing and touching a female victim.  The civilian victim is not a military member or DoD employee.

An Article 32 hearing is a preliminary hearing analogous to a civilian grand jury proceeding with a military judge advocate presiding as the hearing officer.  The presiding officer will review the evidence and may hear witnesses called by the Air Force or the accused to determine if probable cause exists that the accused committed a UCMJ offense.  The officer will also provide a recommendation on disposition of any offenses supported by the evidence.

Just as in civilian criminal proceedings, Cooley is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by competent legal authority.