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In a first for the Air Force, a general is found guilty of sexual abuse

An Air Force major general was found guilty of forcibly kissing a woman in 2018, in the first court-martial and sentencing of a general officer in the 75-year history of the military branch, announced its authorities.

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley was found guilty of sexually abusive conduct Saturday by Col. Christina M. Jimenez, the lead military judge in the case, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

General Cooley was charged with sexually abusive conduct with three ‘specifications’ and was convicted of the first, for ‘kissing her on the lips and tongue, with intent to satisfy her sexual desire’, said the Air Force on Saturday.

Judge Jimenez found General Cooley not guilty of the other two specifications, including forcing the woman, who is his sister-in-law, to touch him over her clothes and touching her breasts and genitals through her clothes , authorities said.

A lawyer for General Cooley, Daniel Conway, did not immediately respond to an email Sunday.

The victim – who did not want his name used but consented to the disclosure of his family relationship to General Cooley – said in a statement after the verdict that “the price of peace in my extended family was my silence, and it was too high. price to pay.”

“Doing the right thing, speaking up, telling the truth, shouldn’t be that hard,” she said. “I hope it won’t be so difficult for the next survivor.”

Ryan Guilds, a lawyer for the woman, said many changes over the past decade have made it less daunting for victims of sexual misconduct by military personnel to come forward. These changes include policy developments that better support accusers, greater sensitivity of military leaders to sexual assault, increased procedural protections for victims, and prosecutors who are more likely to believe survivors.

General Cooley’s sentencing “is a sign of hope, for sure”, Mr Guilds said. “The reality, however, is that every survivor who decides to come forward and make that brave choice is going to face a justice system that is going to be very difficult.”

He added: “In this case, it took years to get to where she is today, and I wouldn’t wish that trip on anyone.”

After a barbecue party in Albuquerque on Aug. 12, 2018, General Cooley, who had been drinking, asked the woman for a ride, she told the court, according to the Air Force.

“During the short ride, she said he told her he fantasized about having sex with her,” the Air Force said in its statement. “She alleged that he pressed her against the driver’s side window, forcefully kissed her and groped her through her clothes. Cooley denied the allegation, pleading not guilty.

The case began after the woman and her spouse reported the assault to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in December 2019.

General Cooley previously commanded the Air Force Research Laboratory, which develops combat technologies for US air, space and cyberspace forces. He was responsible for managing a $2.5 billion science and technology program and an additional $2.3 billion in research and development, according to his Air Force biography.

In January 2020, General Arnold W. Bunch Jr. relieved General Cooley of command of the research lab “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, related to the alleged misconduct which was then the subject of of an investigation,” the Air Force said. . He added that since then General Cooley had been General Bunch’s special assistant.

Judgment is scheduled for Monday. Gen. Cooley faces up to seven years in prison and discharge from the Air Force, but his rank could not be downgraded as part of this process, said Army spokesman Derek Kaufman. air.

nytimes Gt

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