Conviction of sexual misconduct reached in the first Air Force lawsuit against Major General

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An Air Force major general charged with three counts of sexual assault was convicted on one charge in Ohio on Saturday, the first ever conviction by a general in the branch’s history.

Major General William Cooley was found guilty by a military judge of forcibly kissing a woman – a civilian who is not employed by the Ministry of Defense – and he was acquitted of two alleged incidents of coercion during a week-long court trial at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

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“This case clearly demonstrates the Air Force Commander’s obligation to fully investigate the facts and hold pilots of any rank accountable for their actions when they fail to comply with Air Force standards,” said Colonel Eric Mejia, Air Force Materiel Command Staff Judge. AFMC’s headquarters are located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

US Air Force Major General William T. Cooley, inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, April 18, 2019. (Wesley Farnsworth / US Air Force via AP)

US Air Force Major General William T. Cooley, inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, April 18, 2019. (Wesley Farnsworth / US Air Force via AP)
(Wesley Farnsworth / US Air Force via AP)

This is the first military trial ever against an Air Force general and subsequently the first sentence of a general since the Air Force was established in 1947. He risks seven years in prison as well as loss of rank, salary or benefits.

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“Today is the first time an Air Force officer has been held accountable for his heinous acts,” the woman’s lawyer Ryan Guilds told the Dayton Daily News reported. “Hopefully this will not be so difficult for the next survivor.”

The Department of the Air Force seal hangs on the wall on February 24, 2009 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of the Air Force seal hangs on the wall on February 24, 2009 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP via Getty Images)

The conviction stemmed from an incident in 2018 in which a woman arranged for Cooley to take a trip home from a barbecue in New Mexico.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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