The First-Ever Sexual Abuse Conviction By an Air Force General

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For the very first time in the history of military service, an Air Force general was convicted of sexual abuse.

Earlier this week, a top military court ruled that Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a woman.


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An Air Force news statement declared Cooley had been accused of forcefully kissing a victim after an Albuquerque, New Mexico barbeque in 2018.

Ultimately, “[the victim] desired a fair and impartial procedure,” according to Ryan Guilds, the victim’s attorney, who released a press statement.

“She is thankful to the prosecution team that worked on this case,” said the prosecutor.

The First-Ever Time

This will be the first court-martial investigation and sentencing of a general officer in the history of the Air Force.

A single accusation of sexual assault was brought against the general, with three specifics, one of which was that he “kissed her on the lips and tongue with the goal of indulging his sexual desire.”

He was found guilty of this crime.

Cooley was judged not guilty of the other two criteria, which included inducing her to touch him while wearing his clothing and claiming to have touched her breasts and intimate parts while wearing his clothes.

The victim, who asked her identity not be revealed, testified that Cooley requested a lift on Aug. 12, 2018, after consuming alcohol at a cookout.

She claims Cooley informed her he had fantasies about having sexual relations with her.

Later, he shoved her against the car door, where he aggressively kissed and touched her before driving away.


The victim reported the attack to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in 2019, and the investigation was launched.

Because of the alleged misbehavior now under investigation, Cooley was removed from his duties in January 2020 by Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr.

He Pled Not Guilty

Cooley categorically refuted the allegations and entered a not guilty plea.

The trial included the testimony of ten witnesses who discussed the case, as well as the examination of various text messages, emails, and other forms of communication. Cooley did not take the stand.

Air Force Col. Eric Mejia, the staff justice advocate for Cooley’s command, stated in a press release the case “demonstrates the determination of Air Force officials to properly examine the facts and punish airmen who are responsible for their conduct when they fail to follow Air Force standards.”

Numerous revisions to the Pentagon’s framework for sexual assault investigations were included in a $740 billion military budget bill signed by President Biden months earlier.

These revisions included the establishment of an independent prosecutor’s office for each branch of the military, with representatives trained to deal with heinous crimes, such as sexual assault, killing, and abduction.