On the eve of facing trial for sexual assault, a two star Air Force general pleaded guilty to lesser charges, including an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate officer and adultery. Maj. Gen. Phillip Stewart’s court martial on more serious charges including sexual assault is expected to continue this week. Stewart originally pleaded not guilty in March.

Court martials of general officers are exceptionally rare. If the trial proceeds in the coming days, Stewart will join Maj. Gen. William Cooley as the only senior officers in Air Force history to face a court martial.

Appearing in a Joint Base San Antonio courtroom Monday, Stewart pleaded guilty to pursuing an unprofessional relationship with a subordinate officer and adultery, according to reporting by Stars & Stripes.

According to charging documents, allegations against Stewart include an assault on an unnamed woman in an Oklahoma hotel room on April 13 and 14 while on a business trip to Altus Air Force Base. Stewart also faces charges over allegations that he flew an Air Force plane within 12 hours of drinking alcohol. 

He pled not guilty to the remaining charges for sexual assault, dereliction of duty for flying a training aircraft within 12 hours of drinking alcoholic beverages and conduct unbecoming an officer.

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Stewart faces four additional charges of unprofessional behavior and relationships, including a charge of engaging in extramarital sex during the same April trip to Oklahoma. The documents also allege that Stewart “failed to refrain from pursuing an unprofessional relationship” between March and May and invited a companion “to spend the night alone with him in his private hotel room” during a second business trip to Denver in March.

The two star general ​​requested a court-martial by a jury panel for the remaining charges which will begin Monday.

Stewart was relieved in May 2023 as the head of the 19th Air Force, which oversees all of the service’s pilot training at Joint Base San Antionio-Randolph. The command responsibilities include training aircrews, remotely piloted aircraft crews, air battle managers, weapons directors, Air Force Academy Airmanship programs, and survival, escape, resistance, and evasion specialists. The command is made up of over 32,000 personnel which operate more than 1,350 aircraft of 29 different models. 

He served three times as a Wing Commander and twice commanded in combat – first as Commander of the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and as Commanding General of NATO Train Advise Assist Command-Air in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Stewart’s trial was projected to start June 17, according to the UCMJ docket. 

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