Bragg commanders deny outside pressure in general's sex case
Posted June 4, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Two Fort Bragg commanders testified Tuesday that there was never any pressure from Pentagon leadership or the White House to charge an Army general with sexual misconduct.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair faces charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery. His court-martial is scheduled to begin July 16.
The charges stem from allegations that Sinclair twice sexually assaulted a captain with whom he had a three-year affair and that he had inappropriate relationships with five other women, including some subordinates.
Gen. Dan Allyn, who was commanding general of Fort Bragg when the charges were brought against Sinclair, had the final say in referring the case to trial after an Article 32 hearing – the equivalent to a grand jury in civilian criminal court – in November.
Sinclair's lead civilian lawyer, Richard Scheff, asked Allyn during a pre-trial hearing if he was aware that President Barack Obama and top Pentagon brass have called on the military to become more aggressive in prosecuting sexual misconduct cases.
"I have read articles to that effect," replied Allyn, whose exchanges with Scheff were often testy.
"Did that enter your mind at all?" Scheff asked.
"It did not," Allyn said. "It was based solely on the merits of the case."
He repeated that phrase throughout his testimony.
Allyn has since been promoted to oversee the Army's Forces Command, but he said he never received any pressure from the Pentagon or fielded any questions from Congress about the Sinclair case before his promotion.
"I did not expect any contact on that subject. I did not receive any contact on that subject," he said.
Fort Bragg's current commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, also testified that he never sensed pressure from anyone to take a specific action in the case. He said he told investigators they had as much time as they needed to review the charges.
Sinclair's lawyers are also asking for a new Article 32 hearing, arguing that prosecutors should have given them emails and mental health records before the hearing.
That information, they say, suggests the accuser made up the assault allegations so she wouldn't be prosecuted for adultery.
Lt. Gen. James Huggins testified that the woman was "emotional and hysterical" when she reported the alleged assault to him in March 2012.
Huggins said he didn't want rumors to spread and "didn't want to hurt families," noting they were in the middle of a war and had a mission to do. He wanted her to make a statement, and he reported it as misconduct, he said.
Col. James Pohl, the military judge handling the case, hasn't ruled on the defense request for a new Article 32 hearing.
The pre-trial hearing is expected to continue Wednesday.