Emails key in Bragg general's sex case
Posted June 25, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A Fort Bragg general accused of sexual misconduct wants access to his superiors' emails to bolster his defense but wants to shield his personal emails from prosecutors during his court-martial.
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.
Sinclair's attorneys argue that the charges should be dismissed because there was unlawful command influence in bringing the case against him.
His lead civilian lawyer, Richard Scheff, told Col. James Pohl, the military judge handling the case, during a pre-trial hearing that there was "plenty of email correspondence" to establish the involvement of high-ranking Army officials in the case.
Scheff said there was a sense of urgency to charge Sinclair ahead of a memo from then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about a crackdown on sexual assault in the military. He even suggested that the two events could have been coordinated, saying commanders told Fort Bragg officials to delay a news release about Sinclair's charges until the day after the memo came out.
Two Fort Bragg commanders testified three weeks ago that there was never any pressure from the Pentagon or the White House to pursue a case against Sinclair.
Meanwhile, Sinclair took the witness stand Tuesday in a bid to keep emails he sent and received while in Afghanistan private.
Prosecutors have said the emails show that Sinclair threatened his accuser.
Sinclair testified that he "absolutely" had an expectation of privacy when using the government-issued computer, saying he also used it for personal messages.
An Army officer testifying for the prosecution said anyone who gets an email account in Afghanistan has to sign a user agreement waiving privacy expectations. He also said he saw a user agreement signed by Sinclair, but the general said he couldn't recall signing any agreement.
Pohl hasn't ruled on any of the motions.