Bragg general claims Army wrongly pushing sex charges against him
Posted February 25, 2014
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A Fort Bragg general scheduled to be court-martialed next week on sexual misconduct charges has asked a military judge to dismiss the case, arguing that Army officials are improperly pushing the case because of public outrage over sex assault in the military.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair faces charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery. 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.
Sinclair said in a motion filed last Friday that he offered in December to plead guilty to adultery, which is a crime in the military. Lead prosecutor Lt. Col. William Helixon recommended to superiors last month that the offer be accepted, and he recused himself from the case on Feb. 10 after he was told to press forward with the court-martial, according to the motion.
The defense contends that the captain, who served with Sinclair in Iraq and Afghanistan, committed perjury in a January hearing about finding text messages form Sinclair on an old cellphone, making her a poor witness on which to build a case against the general.
The captain said in the January hearing that she came across the old phone in December and charged it up to see if there was anything on it that would affect Sinclair's court-martial. A defense forensics expert contradicted her testimony, saying she had turned the phone on several times in the months before she said she found it packed in a box.
The defense argues in the motion that the Army continues to press the case only to support a get-tough policy against sex assault in the military.
"The (fact) that top military leaders outside the proper chain of command have injected themselves into these proceedings and the current political environment has instilled fear into any officer with authority in connection with a sexual assault prosecution, leads to no other conclusion than the decision-makers in this case fear the adverse personal and political consequences of taking the ethically, morally, and just action of dismissing the charges that rely upon the testimony of the Government’s discredited primary accuser," the motion states. "Because no reasonable observer could possibly determine that such a proceeding was fair and just, this case should be dismissed as a result of unlawful command influence."