On Tuesday, a military judge sentenced Major General William T. Cole to a five-month waiver of $ 10,910 per month from his salary and allowances, for a total fine of more than 50,000. According to an Air Force release, Koli faced dismissal from the Air Force, forfeiture of all salaries and allowances, and a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
The Air Force said in a statement that Cole’s court-martial had, for the first time in the military branch’s 75-year history, convicted a court-martial and a general.
Cooley pleaded not guilty.
A statement from the Air Force said he was found guilty of forcibly kissing an unidentified civilian woman in a car after a Syrian barbecue in New Mexico in 2018. An Air Force release said the general was convicted of one of three counts of sexual assault: kissing the victim “on the lips and tongue, to satisfy his sexual desire.” The judge found Cooley guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery.
In court testimony, the victim alleged that Koli pushed her out of the car window and forcibly kissed her and teased her with her clothes when she took him home from a social function at her request.
The Air Force has not named the victims, but the woman has allowed news outlets to disclose their relationship with Koli without naming them.
The victim’s lawyer, Ryan Guilds, praised the court-martial’s action as “fair” and praised his client’s bravery during the trial.
“It’s very difficult to survive in a criminal case,” the Guilds said in a statement. “It’s one of the reasons why you see so few cases go to court-martial.”
Lt. Col. Matthew Neal, the government’s chief prosecuting attorney, said in a statement to the media after Koli’s sentencing that he believed the conviction and sentence showed that the Air Force was “guilty of sexual assault or sexual offenses.” Takes it seriously. “
“It was a historic court-martial. The first general officer in the Air Force’s 75-year history to be court-martialled in a general court-martial,” Neil said. “The Air Force takes allegations of sexual assault or sexual offenses seriously, investigates them, and when appropriate, the perpetrators are held accountable without fear or favor about anyone’s status.”
Cooley’s defense attorney, Daniel Conway, said there was a “feeling of closure” after the sentencing and that his client wanted to mend ties with his family and the Air Force.
“I think there is a sense of closure. There is a sense of relief, and a desire to mend all these relationships. He is still a very talented person with whom to give so much for both this family and our nation.” Conway said on the availability of media.
Cole has served in the U.S. Air Force for three decades and “his career is unblemished,” Conway said. The general hopes to continue his service and retire from the service, “but those questions about retirement are yet to come,” Conway said.
A U.S. Air Force spokesman said Cooley would remain in the Air Force for the time being, but that he would be administratively relieved of his sentence. The spokesman could not say when a possible expulsion would be decided. The spokesman added that Koli also has the right to retire from the US Air Force.
CNN’s Aaron Palish contributed to this report.