Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin does not have enough time in grade to collect the retirement benefits of a three-star general. (Air Force)
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Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the Third Air Force commander who on Wednesday announced he is leaving the post amid months of scrutiny over his handling of sex assault cases, will retire as a two-star, the Air Force said today.
Officers with the rank of major and above must have three years time in grade to retire at their current rank, said Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley. Franklin pinned on his third star 22 months ago, on March 30, 2012.
Franklin could ask for a waiver of this requirement but will not, said Lt. Col. Paul Baldwin, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
Franklin's retirement date has not been set, Baldwin said. His last day as Third Air Force commander is Jan. 31.
“In the last 10 months as the Commander of Third Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force, my judgment has been questioned publicly regarding my decisions as a general court martial convening authority,” Franklin said in a Jan. 8 statement announcing his retirement. “This is a distraction for the Air Force and for my role as a general court martial convening authority.”
“The last thing I want in this command, is for people to feel they cannot bring a sexual assault case forward or feel it won’t be dealt with fairly. In addition, public scrutiny will likely occur on every subsequent case I deal with. I am concerned this could jeopardize the privacy of both the victim and the accused,” the statement continued.
Franklin incurred the wrath of lawmakers, who questioned how the military justice system treats sexual assault victims, after he decided in February to overturn the conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who was found guilty in November 2012 of sexually assaulting a woman at his home while stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
Franklin came under fire again last month after Stars and Stripes reported the commander had dismissed charges against an airman first class accused of raping a female staff sergeant while stationed at Aviano. The Air Force took the extraordinary step of re-investigating the case after Franklin declined to prosecute. The case will now fall under the authority of Maj. Gen. Sharon K.G. Dunbar, commander of Air Force District Washington, who reviewed the case and tentatively set an Article 32 hearing next month at Joint Base Andrews, Md., the Air Force said.
Jeff Schogol contributed to this story.