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Air Force General Faces Court-Martial on Sexual Assault Charges

Introduction to the Case 

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A high-ranking general in the U.S. Air Force, who previously commanded the 19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, is now facing a serious legal battle. The charges against him include sexual assault, extramarital sexual conduct, and other breaches of military conduct. 

Historical Context 

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This case is notable in the history of the U.S. Air Force. It’s only the second instance where a general officer has been formally accused of a sexual crime, marking a significant moment in military justice. 

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Preliminary Hearing Details 

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The general, Maj. Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, was subject to an Article 32 hearing. This hearing, similar to a grand jury process in civilian law, took place in October to assess the likelihood of violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

 Decision to Proceed to Court-Martial 

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The Air Education and Training Command (AETC) has confirmed that after reviewing the evidence and reports from the Article 32 hearing.  The decision was made to move all charges against Stewart to a court-martial. 

Official Statement from AETC 

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Capt. Scarlett Trujillo, a spokesperson for the AETC, provided an official statement. She explained that Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson, in his capacity as a commanding officer, reviewed all relevant materials before deciding to refer the charges to a court-martial. 

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Circumstances Leading to Stewart’s Removal 

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Stewart was removed from his command position in May due to an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct. This raised doubts about his ability to lead effectively. 

Defense Attorney’s Perspective 

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Jeffrey Addicott, representing Stewart, expressed concern over the decision to proceed with the court-martial. He noted that the judge from the Article 32 hearing had initially recommended dropping some charges and handling others administratively. 

Recommendations from the Article 32 Hearing 

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The judge in the Article 32 hearing advised that the sexual assault charge against Stewart should be dropped. Furthermore, he advised that the remaining charges should be addressed outside of a trial setting. 

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Specific Allegations Against Stewart 

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The charge sheet against Stewart details various allegations. These include engaging in an unprofessional relationship and piloting an aircraft shortly after consuming alcohol. 

Further Allegations of Misconduct 

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Additional accusations against Stewart involve a sexual assault incident in Oklahoma and inappropriate conduct in Colorado. He allegedly invited someone to spend the night in his hotel room while on official travel. 

Historical Precedent in Air Force Court-Martials 

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This case is reminiscent of Maj. Gen. Donald L. Kaufman’s court-martial in 1992 for taking war trophies and unnecessary travel. However, his case was dismissed without a jury trial. 

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Another Historic Court-Martial Case 

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Maj. Gen. William Cooley was convicted in 2022 of abusive sexual contact. This marked the first-ever conviction of an Air Force general in a court-martial. 

Stewart’s Military Career and Achievements 

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Stewart’s career has been distinguished, with over 2,600 flying hours and significant combat experience. His official Air Force biography underscores his extensive service and leadership roles. 

The 19th Air Force Under Stewart’s Command 

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The 19th Air Force, formerly under Stewart’s command, is a major unit with over 30,000 personnel. Stewart’s role involved overseeing a significant portion of the Air Force’s flying program. 

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 Leadership Transition and Court-Martial Update 

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Following Stewart’s dismissal, Maj. Gen. Clark Quinn took over the command of the 19th Air Force. As of the latest updates, the date for Stewart’s court-martial had not been finalized. 

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