Request to Retire Instead of Face Charges

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has refused a request from Maj. Gen. Phillip Stewart, a two-star general accused of sexual assault and other offenses, to retire instead of facing a court-martial, according to Stewart’s attorneys.

This decision means that Maj. Gen. Stewart, only the second Air Force general to be charged with a sexual crime, will go to trial by court-martial in June. Stewart was relieved of his command of the 19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, last year.

Multiple Charges

Stewart faces charges of allegedly performing a sex act on a woman without her consent near Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in April 2023, as stated in a military charge sheet. Additionally, he is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly inviting someone to “spend the night alone with him in his private hotel room” near Denver, Colorado, during official travel in March 2023. The charges also include extramarital sexual conduct.

“We are looking forward to our day in court,”

Stewart’s lead attorney, Sherilyn Bunn, told in a statement. Kendall and the Department of the Air Force spokespeople did not comment.

Stewart’s retirement request in lieu of a court-martial was submitted in January. Jeffrey Addicott, a member of Stewart’s legal team and a professor of law at St. Mary’s University School of Law, confirmed that Kendall denied the request. The denial reportedly occurred on February 20.

Stewart pleaded not guilty in March, with his trial set for June 17.