In the U.S. military, R.H.I.P. stands for rank has its privileges. The higher up someone goes, the more they can get away with. Generals have worked their ways up to carte blanche status. It’s their ballgame. They call the strikes and the fouls, and they expect no argument about it even when one of them’s been accused of sexual assault.
Maj. Gen. Bill Cooley is the first Air Force general to ever be scheduled to stand trial in a military court of law. Cooley was to face a judge and a jury of his peers over a pesky sexual assault charge, but for obvious reasons, he didn’t want to do that.
Using his rank as a power of persuasion, the general talked the judge into canceling the jury. It would be far too embarrassing and what if they were to find him guilty? It’s not like he’s a disposable Airman First Class or something.
On day one of his trial at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Cooley said he wasn’t guilty of the three charges being levied against him. They involve him allegedly kissing and groping a woman who wanted no part of it in August 2018.
The Air Force Times wouldn’t release the name of the supposed victim without her permission which they have yet to receive. All that’s known is that she was a civilian working at the Air Force Research Laboratory that Cooley commanded at the time.
The judge’s agreement to proceed without a jury might be more of an indication of the difficulty in selecting an unbiased panel of other high-ranking Air Force officers who use and sometimes abuse their own privileges.
Since enlisted and lower-ranking officers are not considered capable of making intelligent decisions, the jury would have needed to consist of eight major generals promoted prior to July 2018, or current lieutenant generals or one-star generals. This only appears to be an intentional move to protect generals because it more than likely is.
Military criminal defense attorney Daniel Conway said, “It’s difficult to pick a jury from a pool of officers whose career progression depends on the approval of a Senate that expends significant energy excoriating them about sexual assault on an annual basis.”
To make the case against Cooley quickly disappear, the Air Force is claiming that selecting a jury would take longer than the trial and they’d like to bury this thing in less than a week and get back to aiming high.
The Air Force also believes that “tangled interpersonal relationships” could be a negative factor for the jury and that a single judge would be in a better position to reach a conclusion without the distraction of trial witnesses.
Cooley wasn’t on duty when the incident occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Despite the involved parties demanding a letter of apology and that Cooley pays the bill for the victims’ necessary therapy following the incident, the general maintains that the brief soiree was consensual and has no intention of doing either which would be an admission of guilt.
Former Air Force prosecutor Don Christensen nailed it by saying, “Air Force judges seem to be very open to acquitting an accused now and do so at a rate on par with court members. For sex assault and rape cases, whether before members or a judge alone, the accused is found not guilty in the Air Force about 80% of the time.”
For Air Force generals, the rate will soon be 100% when Cooley gets off the hook and the entire ordeal is soon forgotten. Bear in mind that Cooley is only the first general to be brought to a military trial, but it’s certain he isn’t the only guilty party. R.H.I.P.