Defense: Army violated rights in seizing computers
Posted June 26, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A U.S. Army officer admits that he used what he described as "a ruse" to retrieve computers from the home of a general under investigation for alleged sexual assaults.
Col. Mark Murray testified Wednesday at a pre-trial hearing that he called Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's wife and told her the government-owned computers in their home at Fort Bragg needed to be updated, The Fayetteville Observer reported Wednesday.
Sinclair's wife had not been told that her husband, on deployment in Afghanistan, was under investigation for sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him and with whom he carried on a three-year affair.
The captain testified at an evidentiary hearing last year that when she tried to end the relationship Sinclair threatened her and, on two occasions, physically forced her to perform oral sex.
Sinclair faces court martial beginning July 16 on charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery.
The general's defense team contends that the computers were seized without a search warrant in violation of the general's constitutional rights.
Prosecutors have suggested that emails from the government-owned computer will show Sinclair threatened his accuser.
Sinclair testified Tuesday that he had an expectation that any personal messages sent on the computer would remain private. He also said other members of his staff also used his computer to communicate with friends and family at home, due to limited access to the Internet in the war zone.
The prosecution countered with testimony that anyone who gets a military email account in Afghanistan has to sign a user agreement waiving privacy expectations.
Sinclair said he couldn't recall ever signing such an agreement.
Also on Tuesday, military Judge Col. James Pohl denied several defense motions, including one from earlier this month in which Sinclair's attorneys requested another Article 32 hearing, similar to a probable cause hearing.
Pohl also denied a motion from Tuesday in which defense attorneys asked for access to emails of high-ranking military officials who were allegedly involved in the decision to charge Sinclair.