November 11, US media reported that the US Air Force has charged a two-star officer for alleged sexual assault, making the officer the first senior general who may be sent to a military court in 73 years. It is understood that this military officer is not the first senior military officer to be found committing crimes. Records show that the department has committed at least 500 similar serious misconducts by senior military officials in less than 4 years.
According to news from USA TODAY on the 10th, Major General William Cooley of the U.S. Air Force was charged with a crime of sexual assault in an incident in August 2018. Cooley allegedly committed a crime against a woman. Sexual assault. According to the US Air Force, the woman is a civilian, not an employee of the Department of Defense. Cooley will face the first trial system under Article 32 on January 27, and a senior military judge will review the allegations. The judge can decide to transfer the case to a military court.
Cooley’s lawyers refuted these allegations, saying that the Air Force lacked evidence to support their charges, and that emails sent by witnesses also crushed these allegations. The victim’s lawyer said that she expects the truth to come to light, “the victim knows what happened, the evidence will show everything, and it will also show what the defendant has done”.
Cooley is the latest in a series of senior officials in the department to be charged or sanctioned for sexual misconduct. A report from USA Today in 2017 showed that since 2013, investigators have recorded at least 500 serious misconducts by generals, admirals, and senior civilians in the department, almost half of which involved personal or moral errors. Including adultery, sexual harassment and assault. According to the relevant provisions of the US military law, adultery is a crime.
Christensen, the former U.S. Air Force’s top prosecutor, said that sending officers to military courts would be a precedent. For similar crimes, low-ranking soldiers are often punished more severely than high-ranking officials. If Major General Cooley is actually tried by a military court, this will mark the first time a general has been prosecuted in the 73-year history of the Air Force. Christensen introduced that for a long time, the U.S. Air Force has adopted a two-tier judicial system, making the level of trial of senior military officers lower than that of the soldiers under its leadership.
General Arnold Bunch, who leads the Air Force Equipment Command, lifted Cooley from command of the Air Force Research Laboratory in January this year. Since then, Cooley has been on standby and engaged in political work. General Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, investigated the allegations and recommended that Cooley be prosecuted.