Facing Sexual Assault Charges, Air Force Colonel Heads to Court-Martial

The teal ribbon is a national symbol of support for victims of sexual assault.
The teal ribbon is a national symbol of support for victims of sexual assault. (U.S Air Force/illustration/Staff Sgt. Don Hudson)

Update: Col. Sean McNamara was found not guilty at a court-martial that concluded March 31, 2021, of all three charges brought in October 2020.

An Air Force colonel will soon face a court-martial after being charged with sexual assault under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Col. Sean McNamara, of the 316th Medical Support Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, has been charged with three specifications under Article 120 of the UCMJ, which pertains to rape and sexual assault, a spokesperson from the base confirmed to Military.com. His case is set to go to trial March 29, the spokesperson said. Air Force Times was first to report the news.

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The Air Force brought charges against McNamara in October following an investigation that began in 2019. McNamara was previously the commander of the 39th Medical Group at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

According to a charge sheet provided to Military.com, McNamara is accused of touching the groin, breast and genitals of an unidentified woman without her consent in a December 2019 incident near Leesburg, Virginia. That year, McNamara also served in the Air Force Office of the Surgeon General in Falls Church, Virginia, according to the Air Force.

Following the incident, the alleged victim "approached the Sexual Assault Prevention Response (SAPR) advocate," the spokesperson said. "The information was promptly turned over to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The case went to an Article 32 preliminary hearing for review prior to the Air Force's referral of charges."

Officials at Joint Base Andrews declined to offer details about McNamara's current assignment ahead of trial.

"The Air Force takes allegations of misconduct very seriously regardless of rank," the spokesperson said. "However, airmen are presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with due process."

McNamara's trial will follow the convening of an Article 32 preliminary hearing into sexual assault allegations against another senior Air Force officer, Maj. Gen. William Cooley, who led the Air Force Research Lab for roughly two and a half years.

The hearing for Cooley, who was removed from his post last year, will be held later this month and will be used to determine whether charges will be brought to trial.

The Air Force brought three specifications of sexual assault against Cooley in November.

If charges against Cooley are referred, he would be the first general officer in the Air Force's history to face a court-martial, Don Christensen, president of advocacy group Protect Our Defenders and a retired Air Force colonel, told Air Force Times in November.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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