A high-ranking member of President Joe Biden’s military received a rather dubious distinction over the weekend by becoming the first general officer in Air Force history to be court-martialed and convicted of abusive sexual conduct, as the Washington Examiner reports.
According to the outlet, Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley was declared guilty of engaging in sexual abuse by forcibly kissing and groping the unnamed victim following a barbeque gathering in New Mexico back in 2018.
An Air Force press release indicated that Cooley faced a single charge of sexual assault under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with three specifications and was found guilty by senior military judge Col. Christina Jimenez.
At Cooley’s trial, testimony from 10 witnesses was heard, including from the victim herself, friends and family members, as well as a digital forensics expert who offered insight on hundreds of electronic communications that were introduced as evidence.
Having denied the allegation and entered a not guilty plea in the matter, Cooley also opted not to testify on his own behalf at trial, according to the Air Force press release.
Ryan Guilds, the lawyer representing the victim, praised his client for stepping forward with her claim, saying that it takes considerable courage for sex assault survivors to go public with their experience and undergo stressful cross examination at trial.
“It is very hard to be a survivor in a criminal case. That is one of many reasons you see so few of these cases go to court-martial,” said Guilds. “At the end of the day, [the victim] wanted a process that was fair. She is incredibly grateful for the prosecution team that worked on this case.”
Col. Eric Mejia, staff judge advocate for Cooley’s command issued a statement noting, “This case demonstrates the commitment of Air Force leaders to fully investigate the facts and hold Airmen of any rank accountable for their actions when they fail to uphold Air Force standards.”
Jimenez will now be responsible for overseeing the sentencing phase of Cooley’s case, slated to commence this week. Hopefully, once all evidence related to any aggravating, extenuating, or mitigating factors is presented by the prosecution and the defense, the victim will feel that justice has indeed been served.