The court-martial of a Nellis Air Force Base major accused of sex abuse and assault of an enlisted man remained stalled Thursday while a military judge waited for the base convening authority to find more candidates for a jury panel.
The judge, Lt. Col. Christopher Schumann, excused all but four court members from a field of 11 officers this week, leaving the panel one shy of a quorum required for the trial of Maj. Charles L. Cox Jr., a nurse in the 99th Medical Operations Squadron at Nellis.
Cox pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday. He is accused of touching the buttocks and anus of an airman first class “with intent to arouse or gratify his own sexual desire” while the man was asleep on Aug. 4, 2012.
Cox also pleaded not guilty to assault consummated by battery for unlawfully touching the airman’s buttocks, anus and back with his hand.
In addition, he pleaded not guilty to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman in connection with allegations of being drunk and disorderly on Aug. 3, 2012, in the presence of enlisted airmen and making sexual comments to enlisted women in the Air Force.
If Cox is convicted of abusive sexual conduct, he could be dismissed from duty or, in essence, dishonorably discharged, confined for seven years and required to forfeit all pay and allowances.
Continuing the court-martial proceeding hinges on the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Lofgren, finding superior ranking officers such as lieutenant colonels or colonels who can sit on the court panel for making a fair judgment of Cox’s guilt or innocence.
The court-martial remained in recess Thursday afternoon but is scheduled to resume today with continuing the process of filling the panel with at least a fifth court member followed by opening statements by trial counsel.