COVID delays court-martial of former AFRL commander

Maj. Gen. William Cooley, who was removed as Air Force Research Laboratory commander in January 2020, gave the keynote presentation at the Air Force Institute of Technology centennial symposium on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in November 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez)

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Maj. Gen. William Cooley, who was removed as Air Force Research Laboratory commander in January 2020, gave the keynote presentation at the Air Force Institute of Technology centennial symposium on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in November 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez)

Trial delayed until April, AFMC says Thursday evening

The general court-martial trial of Air Force Maj. Gen. William Cooley, scheduled to begin at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Monday, has been continued by the military judge until April 18, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) said late Thursday.

“The shift occurred, in part, due to COVID concerns among the trial participants,” the command said in a release.

A sexual assault charge, with three specifications under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, was referred against Cooley, as a result of an alleged August 2018 off-duty incident with a civilian adult woman in Albuquerque, N.M.

The trial is expected to take up to 14 days once it begins, the command said.

Just as in civilian criminal proceedings, Cooley is presumed innocent unless or until proven otherwise by a competent legal authority, AFMC said.

Since his removal from command of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) , Cooley, a two-star general, has served as special assistant to Gen. Arnold Bunch, AFMC commander, with duties focused on advancing the command’s digital campaign, the Air Force has said.

Both AFRL and AFMC are headquartered at Wright-Patterson.

Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force and the president of the group Protect Our Defenders, told the Dayton Daily News in 2020 that if the Cooley case went to court-martial, he will be the first general officer in Air Force history to face such a proceeding.

“An Air Force general has never been court-martialed,” Christensen said at the time. “It’s a big deal that they’re doing this.”

“What it tells me is that the investigation has shown that the evidence is really strong, that he committed this offense,” he said.

Bunch relieved Cooley from command of AFRL in January 2020 following the accusations.

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